A will goes into probate as soon as a petition is filed in court and there are no objections to the petition from heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent. The probate process ensures payment of the decedent's debts and legal transfer of property to heirs and beneficiaries.
After the probate petition has been accepted by the court, the will's executor, as accepted by the court, must give notice to all known creditors that the will is in probate. Creditors have a limited time to respond to the notice, a period that varies according to state law. Some states also require that a court-appointed assessor value the estate upon an inventory provided by the executor. The executor is in charge of deciding which debts are valid and paying them. The executor also settles any estate taxes and other expenses such as funeral costs.
After the legal amount of time for all creditors to make claims on the estate has passed and all court-approved debts and expenses have been settled, the executor petitions the court for permission to legally transfer whatever is left of the estate to the heirs and beneficiaries as listed in the will. Once such a petition is granted, the executor may take financial steps as necessary, such as transferring stocks or liquidating assets, to transfer property properly according to the will.