Probate Law: What Must be Included in the Petition for Probate of Will and Appointment of Personal Representative?

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on December 2, 2011

If you have been appointed as the personal representative in a loved one’s Will and you have hired an estate lawyer, in most states, you will need to file a formal legal document, often called something similar to a “Petition for Probate of Will and Appointment of Personal Representative.”

Although the law changes from state-to-state and you should check with an estate lawyer in your area, there are some general requirements for the filing of such a Petition.  Foremost, the personal representative’s name and contact information must be on the Petition.  Furthermore, the name and date of the deceased person (or decedent’s) death must be included on the Petition.

Further information that is required to be on Petitions for Probate of Will may include:

  1. The address of the Personal Representative;
  2. The nature of the Personal Representative’s “interest” and relation to the estate (e.g., is the personal representative and heir of the estate?);
  3. The date-of-birth of the decedent;
  4. The date of the decedent’s death;
  5. The decedent’s domicile at the time of death.  (generally meaning the decedent’s State and County of residence, including the decedent’s address);
  6. The names and addresses of the decedent’s spouse (if any) and the children, heirs and other devisees of the decedent;
  7. That all the interested persons have survived the decedent by at least the required number of hours for the probate estate to be opened and filed with the court;
  8. Whether all the children of the decedent are also the children of the decedent’s spouse;
  9. That “venue” in the court where the Petition is filed is proper.  (This term relates to the proper filing of the Petition in the proper State and County of the decedent’s residence);
  10. That no other Personal Representative has been appointed in the State and that there is no other estate proceeding going on somewhere else;
  11. The the Original Will of the decedent is (1) in the court’s possession or (2) is attached to the Petition when it is filed;
  12. That the Personal Representative believes that the Will is valid and has been validly executed;
  13. That, after the exercise of reasonable care and diligence, the Personal Representative is unaware of any instrument revoking the Will, and that the Personal Representative believes that the instrument which is the subject of the Petition is, in fact, the decedent’s Last Will and Testament;
  14. That the Personal Representative is a qualified person to serve as the Personal Representative under the Will and there is no reason why he or she cannot serve as the Personal Representative.

The requirements above are simply an example.  You should talk with and estate lawyer in you state and locality for further questions or changes in the law.

Finally, assuming the proper information is included in the Petition for Probate of Will, then the estate lawyer and the Personal Representative must sign and verify the truth and veracity of the document before it is filed with the court.  Often, the documents must be signed before a notary of public.

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