How To Know If An Estate Has Been Settled? Is It A Public Record?

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When the court confirms the final report from the estate’s appointed representative, generally an executor or administrator, the estate is settled. Payment of the deceased’s obligations, final tax returns, and the transfer and sale of assets are all part of the estate settlement process, with property and sale proceeds going to the deceased’s heirs or will beneficiaries. 

Since estate procedures are public records, you may check to see if an estate has been settled by looking at the estate’s court documents. Finding out if an estate has been settled in full may be necessary for various scenarios, particularly if you’re a family member or beneficiary who hasn’t gotten their share or a creditor who is yet to receive payment.

Find the probate or surrogate court where the estate procedures were handled. The court might be in the county where the dead lived or had property. Make contact with the clerk of each court you come across. Inquire about the estate filing review procedure. 

The procedures differ from one county to the next. Some courts allow a written request for estate documents to be mailed in, while others require an in-person visit. To examine the estate records, follow the clerk’s directions. You will invariably need to provide the clerk with information on the dead, such as the legal name and, if available, the date of death, so they can locate the estate documents.

Look over the estate file. You must locate the last estate account. The duly appointed authority, such as an administrator or executor of the estate, must file a final account and get a court release to settle the estate. In the paperwork of a settled estate, you will discover a final account and release. 

If you do not see a final account or release, write down the name and address of the estate’s attorney, as indicated on the court papers. If the estate did not hire an attorney, write down the name and address of the executor or estate administrator.

If you have questions concerning the estate’s settlement status, contact the estate’s attorney or an administrator. If you have a relationship with the dead, state it. Explain why you’re asking. If you don’t explain why you’re interested in the estate, the attorney or administrator may not react.

Tips

         Find the contact information for surrogate courts and county probate on the official website of the state’s judicial system. Some courts record whether an estate has been resolved or closed on the record viewing system or in the file itself.

Warnings

         Copies of estate files obtained over the phone or mail may be subject to a court charge. The cost of copies and retrievals varies per court. Do not call the estate executor or administrator by phone unless you have explicit permission from the executor or administrator. The executor or administrator is usually a person, such as a family member, rather than a company. They might not feel comfortable discussing the estate with an unknown party over the phone.

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