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Filing for Probate During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Going through the probate process while grieving a loved one is challenging and painful. Doing it while also living through a global pandemic seems almost inhumane. You might be tempted to curl up under the covers and just wait this whole thing out. 

But if you are managing the estate of a loved one, we strongly recommend that you take the necessary steps to file for probate as soon as possible. Filing quickly is always important, but the current market volatility poses a heightened risk to probate assets.

We’ve been following courts around the country and can help you figure out how to move forward with the probate process right now. 

 

The Probate Process

Let’s start with how probate works. Under normal circumstances, the probate process can vary state by state but follows a relatively straightforward path wherever you are. 

  1. Petition the court to become the legal representative of the estate
  2. Notify heirs and debtors
  3. Change legal ownership of assets from the deceased individual to the "Estate of [The Deceased]"
  4. Pay funeral expenses, taxes, and debts
  5. Transfer assets to heirs
  6. Notify the court of your actions and close the estate 

Our article on the probate process provides a more detailed explanation of each step in the process. The time required and cost of probate vary depending on your location and the size and complexity of the estate. In general, probate takes at least three months but could take a year or more. The average cost to probate a simple estate is between $3,000 and $7,000. 

See: Why Is Probate So Expensive?

 

The Probate Process During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The probate process itself has not changed, but some of the current circumstances—particularly social distancing protocols—may have changed the details of engaging with the probate court or a probate attorney where you live.

Many courts have taken steps to limit human contact, such as suspending jury trials and in-person hearings and asking that matters are handled remotely if at all possible. 

Probate court hearings can be held remotely with official phone conference systems, like TeleCourt and CourtCall. Many probate courts already made remote hearings available as a convenience, and we have recommended remote hearings to customers that would have to travel a significant distance to the court. 

Now that many courts are following social distancing protocols, the probate court will likely have instituted a practice of scheduling their hearings as remote hearings. However, if the probate court you are dealing with schedules an in-person hearing and you are concerned about attending because of the coronavirus, we recommend that you request a remote hearing instead.

You may also find that probate attorneys are engaging in different practices because of quarantine requirements or social distancing protocols. Many attorneys are working remotely, and while some may be able to do this effectively, others may not be able to provide adequate assistance during this time. 

Fortunately, most probate cases don’t require an attorney, and people handle probate cases without an attorney everyday. Because all of our interactions with you occur digitally, EZ-Probate will continue to operate as usual. We will continue to produce ready-to-sign probate forms and instructions so you can quickly probate an estate regardless of the current pandemic.


Please schedule a call or email us with any questions or concerns you have.