Once all the decedent’s property has been liquidated, creditors have all been taken care of, and tax issues have been cleared, this would typically be the perfect time to close the probate. Probate can remain open depending on specific circumstances in each case. An easy method for closing probate is through the use of a Declaration of Completion. Another option is Petition for a Decree of Distribution and a Final Report and Petition for Distribution which both require a court hearing. If you have not been granted nonintervention power by probate court, a Declaration of Completion or a Petition for a Decree of Distribution cannot be used and instead probate court will review the report and petition. Here is a brief overview of how each probate case can close depending on which method you choose.
Using a Declaration of Completion, a probate case can be closed without returning to court. The declaration usually contains information that concerns the dependent and the probate of the estate, the amount the fees that were paid out to the personal representative, accountant, attorney and appraiser. The personal representative will have to file the declaration with the court and within a few days, the declaration will be mailed to all the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate. There is a special pleading that also gets mailed called a Notice of Filing. Final distributions are made to heirs and if all of them sign a properly drafted receipt, then the personal representative needs to file the receipts and the declaration, ensuring probate will be closed.
If probate closure is done by Petition for a Decree of Distribution, it is required that a hearing is scheduled with the court. There are two types of decrees that can be entered through this method. The first type does not require an accounting by the personal representative and the second does. Both notice requirements are the same process for giving notice of a Final Report when a personal representative has not received nonintervention powers.
Lastly, a Final Report and Petition for Distribution must be prepared if the personal representative or administrator has not received nonintervention powers. The report has to contain any money collected since the prior report to the court, any paid off debt, property and the general condition of the estate. The court will look carefully to ensure the proper report has been provided.
This a simplified version of how probate can close, but there can be more to it. If you need assistance or are looking into probate, we at DAL Law Firm can help you. Call us at (206) 408-8158 for a consultation today; we look forward to hearing from you.