Informal Versus Formal Proceedings

The first decision which needs to be made when commencing probate proceedings is whether to use informal proceedings or formal proceedings. Informal and formal proceedings are different ways of having a will admitted to probate and a personal representative appointed. Once a personal representative is appointed under either method, administration will proceed in an unsupervised manner. Additionally, you may choose to have the estate proceed by supervised administration by requesting supervised administration in a formal proceeding.

Informal and formal proceedings are two ways to accomplish the same thing. By using either, you can have a will admitted to probate and a personal representative appointed. Informal proceedings are less complicated and generally take less time to complete. The results, however, can always be challenged in a formal proceeding. Thus, you do not have the finality gained by a court order obtained through formal proceedings. Formal proceedings require a court hearing. Notice of that hearing must be served upon interested parties. Formal proceedings are more complicated and generally take longer. They do give you a greater degree of finality for matters covered by the order. Supervised administration can be described as a series of formal proceedings from beginning to end.

All probated estates require:

  • A death certificate accompany the petition or application.
  • The sworn testimony regarding interested persons be filed.
  • To remain open a minimum of five months.
  • That applicable court documents be used to close the proceeding.

Additional forms may be required depending on the facts of the case. All forms can be obtained online at the State Court Administrative Office.

As to the Inventory, a copy of tax statement showing SEV or appraisal if value is pursuant to an appraisal be included for all real estate.

If estate is continued beyond two years, depending on the reason a hearing may be scheduled to determine the necessity of continued administration. The personal representative and attorney (if any) must be present at this hearing.