Probate Court Forms
Probate legal forms are the court documents needed to interact with the court in order to open, process and close an estate. Probate court is conducted at the county level, and each county may have their own set of forms. Many (most) states have passed uniform court document legislation and the majority of court forms can be found at the state level.
Before we show you how to find probate legal forms online for your county, allow me to caution you slightly about going completely on your own with these documents. Each State and County can have slightly different set of rules, and most importantly major differences in attitude with self-representation. No court will provide you with any legal advice, meaning, most courts will not help you one bit in figuring out which forms are necessary and how to fill them out. Often the simplest question (not legal by any nature) will get the response... 'we don't provide legal advice'.
Other courts have excellent self-help programs, packets, and even dedicated staff to help you fill out the forms. In our lengthy experience courts often have the attitude that you, the citizen, is not capable of filling out forms for probate application and interacting with the court without an attorney. Please know this is not true, there are only two states (Texas and Iowa) that have specific legislation requiring an attorney for probate.
We have developed and refined an online probate process that will provide ready to sign probate forms specific to your state and county. Additionally we provide step by step instructions so that you can complete probate with minimal expense.
If and when actual legal advice is needed, you can be confident you are paying for actual legal advice and not for simply filling out probate legal forms. Read more about when you might need an attorney.
How To Find Probate Forms
1) Go to your web browser and search: Probate Court (insert state).
Tip, if you know the county name alter the search to include the county, e.g.: Google: Probate Court Bucks County PA.
The reason I suggest to search at the county level is they may have some extra information and even a "how to packet". This is not common, but worth a shot. Most county websites will have a link to the state unified court documents section for probate.
2) Download the appropriate probate forms. This is tricky as most states and counties DO NOT provide any instruction, and rarely if ever will help you when calling the court clerk. Generally speaking, you will need the following types of probate forms to initiate the petition.
Please note, forms are often mixed in with other family court forms (adoption, guardianship etc) and may be difficult to locate. You should look for the following types of forms:
- Petition For Probate - This is the Main form needed to start probate
- Interested Party Notification & Certification - Form to notify interested parties (heirs, family etc.) that a petition for probate is being initiated and a certification to court that you have notified them
- Initial Inventory - Usually required after appointment. Note, most states require this within 3 months of appointment
- Creditor Notification / Estate Announcement - Notifying Creditors and placing a notice in a local paper of the estate are often required
- Final Accounting - This is often missing in the available documents to download, but is absolutely necessary. The accounting will tell the court of all the activity of the estate
- Final Distribution - The final step in probate, any remaining assets will be distributed to the appropriate people and the discharge from the court of your responsibilities
The above are just the most common set of forms, each state and county will have different mandatoy forms than the one's mentioned above. E.g., New York State also requires a family tree and a fire arms (stating if fire arms are present) affidavit.
Also if you don't fill out the correct probate form you may unnecessarily make things harder. Many states have small estate procedures that are often overlooked. These small estate offer simpler procedures that dramatically reduce your work time required to complete probate.