In Rhode Island, each city and town has and controls its own Probate Court, which is a part of the municipal government.
A Probate Court decides the legal validity of a deceased person’s will. If the Will is approved, an Executor named under the Will is appointed as the personal representative of the deceased person. If any of the persons named in the Will as Executor or successor cannot serve or decline to serve, the Probate Court appoints an Administrator of the estate.
An Administrator is also appointed if a person dies without a Will or his or her Will is not admitted as valid by the Probate Court.
The Executor or Administrator has the legal authority to administer the deceased person’s estate, i.e. his or her property. This involves resolving all claims filed by Creditors of the decedent and distributing his or her property under the Will.
Creditors must be notified of the opening of the Probate matter.
There are time deadlines for filing and objecting to Creditors’ claims against the estate.
Certain aspects of the probate process are advertised in legal notices in a newspaper of general circulation.
Real estate or other property may have to be sold to allow for the proper distribution of the decedents’ assets and/or to pay his or her debts.
Estate taxes, gift taxes, or inheritance taxes must be considered if the estate exceeds certain thresholds.
Costs of the administration is deducted from the assets in the estate before they are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
Beneficiaries must receive adequate notice of the proceedings in the Probate Court and the administration of the deceased’s estate.