Closed Estate: Under what circumstances can it be reopened?
Once a probate administration is completed and an estate is closed, one would hope that it marks the end of the process. This may not always be the case, however. Depending on the circumstances, there may be reasons for reopening a closed estate. It’s important to understand when an estate must be reopened and when it can remain a closed estate.
Five Circumstances when a Closed Estate is Reopened:
Generally, the following are some of the common reasons for reopening an estate that has already been closed:
- First, when a more recent version of the will is found and determined to be valid.
- Furthermore, when you know or suspect that fraud, theft, or other wrongdoing took place during the administration of the estate.
- Also when a new heir is discovered. For example, perhaps the decedent had a child that you did not know about. How this will be handled depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the estate. Some estates may need to be reopened, and inheritances of each of the heirs may need to be recalculated.
- Additionally, when new assets are discovered after the estate was already closed.
- Lastly, when a new debt is found, verified, and still within the applicable statute of limitations. In many cases, new debts will not require the reopening of an estate, because creditors are supposed to come forward while the estate is open to make their claims. Occasionally, however, circumstances may give rise to reopening the estate and paying the debt. It may even turn out to be beneficial to the estate or its beneficiaries from a tax perspective.
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