Can I File Probate Online?

Staci A. Terry

The ability to file probate online depends on the jurisdiction that is responsible for probating the deceased person’s will. This may be the jurisdiction in which the deceased person lived, the jurisdiction in which he or she owned real estate, or another designated jurisdiction. Jurisdictions all have different guidelines and regulations regarding online filing, commonly known as e-filing, for court proceedings, including probate filings. If e-filing is not available, the jurisdiction may still have resources available online or through the clerk's office to guide you through the process. Before beginning the filing process, you may want to consult with a probate lawyer in the appropriate jurisdiction.

In order for ownership of the assets to be transferred to the next of kin, those assets must first go through a process of probate.
In order for ownership of the assets to be transferred to the next of kin, those assets must first go through a process of probate.

A few jurisdictions allow e-filing for different kinds of court proceedings, including probate proceedings, and other jurisdictions have mandatory e-filing for some types of cases. In other jurisdictions, individual courts operate e-filing systems for some or all types of court cases, or for certain designated court documents in particular cases. Additionally, e-filing may be available, but may not be mandatory for persons wishing to file probate or any other type of court proceedings.

Many jurisdictions maintain a website that gives information about the availability of e-filing, associated costs, and the correct procedures. Some jurisdictions contract with outside service providers to facilitate the online filing process, whereas other jurisdictions maintain their own e-filing system. Jurisdictions that do not offer e-filing may have printable probate and other court forms available on their websites for interested persons, or additional information about the probate filing process. The clerk’s office for the jurisdiction may also provide information about the availability of filing probate online, as well as the costs and the procedures involved. Paper copies of probate forms for use by the public may also be available in from the clerk's office if e-filing is not an option in a particular jurisdiction.

Probate laws and proceedings in each jurisdiction range from simple to very complex depending on the will, the size of the estate, the number of beneficiaries, and the nature of the probate proceeding. Even if you are able to file probate online, you still must file all of the appropriate paperwork in the proper format, which can be difficult for a person who is unfamiliar with probate procedures. As a result, it may be advisable to consult with a probate attorney in order to evaluate the will, discuss the availability of filing probate online, and decide whether retaining a probate lawyer to assist with the probate process would be beneficial. Retaining a probate attorney and paying his fees may be a necessary step to successfully completing a probate case.

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