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The probate process: 3 to 9 months after death

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  1. Petition the appropriate court for probate.
  2. Place a legal notice in the paper to notify unidentified heirs and creditors. Contact named beneficiaries and known creditors directly.
  3. For example, if the decedent owned investment property, rents will need to be collected.
  4. This includes expenses, debts, and bequests (paid out in that order). Court permission may be required before writing checks through the estate account--keep meticulous records.
  5. The federal estate tax return is due nine months after the date of death. State filing deadlines vary, so check with the appropriate state agency.
  6. This is necessary to close the probate proceedings and relinquish the executor's duties.