What is the Probate Court hearing?

A hearing at the Probate Court is an opportunity for all family members and other parties in interest to appear at the court to ask questions or to make certain that their views are known. The notice of a hearing should not be ignored if there are any questions on, or objections to, matters being heard. The law presently mandates at least one hearing on all probated estates. The hearing is usually held at the closing or acceptance of the final accounting by the executor or administrator, unless all parties sign and file with the Court a written waiver acknowledging that they have reviewed the final account and have given it their approval.

Unless all interested parties voluntarily sign a waiver, notice of the hearing is required at the time each estate is opened to pass upon the admission of the will to probate or for the appointment of an administrator. Other hearings may be necessary at intermediary stages of the proceedings, such as upon a request for an allowance for support of the surviving spouse or children or for the settlement of a doubtful or disputed claim or for the sale of real property.

Probate hearings are normally informal proceedings; however, unresolved or contested matters may require the taking of evidence at a hearing so that the Judge can make a proper determination of facts or law.

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1. Why do Probate Courts become involved in the settling of decedents' estates?
2. When is it necessary to open an estate?
3. Is it necessary to have a lawyer or other professional help Probate an estate or file the required tax returns?
4. What is the Probate Court hearing?