Understand and meet any court appearance requirements

When you file a will with the probate court, know that this is likely only the first step in the process. The court might communicate with you about your executor responsibilities and want you to provide updates as to where you are in the process. The probate judge might ask that this happen in-person through an official appearance made in the court. The extent to which this is required often varies depending on the complexity of the estate and mandates set out by the will or state law. If you are given a date and time to appear in court, you must appear. If you have questions about rescheduling due to a legitimate inability to attend, you should contact the court’s office immediately. You might face legal penalties if you fail to appear when summoned by a court.

If you have an attorney helping with the administration of the estate, you should notify the attorney if you receive notification of a required court appearance immediately. The estate attorney should be with you during these appearances before the court so he or she can explain the items discussed by the judge and help you provide answers if the judge requests further information.

When going to the probate court it is a good idea to bring notes and your executor checklist with you that you can reference if necessary. Make note of the tasks you’ve accomplished to date and bring your expense worksheet. If you are being compensated by the estate for the work, it is a good idea to have handy a list of hours you’ve spent working on the estate and any expenses you’ve incurred for which you have not been reimbursed.