An estate is the collection of property a person leaves behind after death. Estates include both assets, such as real estate or bank accounts, as well as debts and other liabilities. The legal process that governs estates is called probate, and each state has its own set of probate laws. If you want to find out about an estate that has been submitted to probate there are several possible ways to do this.
Contact the Estate Administrator
Every time someone dies someone else has to open a probate case before the estate property can be distributed. This person is known as an estate administrator, sometimes called an executor or personal representative. It is the administrator’s job to go about collecting estate property, contacting would be inheritors, as well as notifying creditors that the estate has been opened. If you know who the estate administrator is you can typically contact his or her office and ask about the estate.
Search the Public Record
Probate cases are civil cases and are open to public inspection. Once an estate has been opened it will usually be accompanied by a notification published in a local newspaper of record. Also, the county courthouse will maintain open records and allow you to inspect the documents that have been filed in the case.
Contact a Probate Lawyer
A lot of people simply don’t have the time to research estates, and hiring your own probate lawyer to do the research for you can save you a lot of headaches. A good probate lawyer will be able to quickly find out information about the case, some which may not be readily discoverable by people who are unfamiliar with the probate process.