How to Find Out If an Estate Has Been Settled?

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How to Find Out If an Estate Has Been Settled?

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Estate settlement can be a long and tiresome procedure. A lot of factors go into settling an estate. It involves filing the will and notifying the necessary people, paying the debts of the deceased, filing for final tax returns, distributing the assets per the Will of the deceased and more. 

Figuring out if the estate is settled can be important information, especially if you are a beneficiary of the Will or a family member who didn’t receive their share or even a creditor whose payment is still pending.

Luckily, figuring out if the estate has been settled is easy. Estate proceedings are a matter of public record, so if you need to find out the status, viewing the estate’s court record will give you the answer.

How to find out if an estate has been settled?

Here is a step-by-step procedure to figure out if the court has settled the estate. 

  • You will need to find the probate or surrogate court that handles the estate’s proceedings (The court is generally located where the deceased lived or where they owned the estate)
  • Since procedures can vary from county to county, you will need to contact the court clerk and inquire about the procedure for reviewing estate documents. 
  • Depending on the court, you will need to either mail in a written request for the estate files or visit in person to obtain them.
  • The court clerk will require the information of the deceased. Some of them are the legal name of the deceased person and the date of death (or death certificate). This needs to be provided so that the clerk can find the paperwork of the estate. 
  • You can now view the estate documents. Locate the final estate account. 
  • To settle the estate, the administrator or the executor will need to file a final account and receive a release from the court. In the files of the settled estate, you will find the final account and release. 
  • Note the name, contact details and address of the estate’s attorney
  • If the estate did not use an attorney, note down the name, address and contact details of the estate administrator or executor.
  • You can contact the administrator or the estate’s attorney and inquire about the settlement status of the estate. Make sure to give a proper reason for your inquiry as well as identify yourself.

Points to remember:

  • The official website of the state’s court often contains the contact details of the probate and surrogate court.
  • The court may charge you for a copy and retrieval fee (the fee may vary) if you have ordered the estate files over the phone or by mail.
  • The estate executor or administrator tends to be a family member or a close friend. Until exclusively mentioned, do not contact them over the phone as they might not be entirely comfortable discussing estate matters of their loved one with an unknown individual.