How do you reopen an estate?

UPDATED: Dec 5, 2011

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How do you reopen an estate?

About 11 months ago I closed the estate of my husband. I was instructed by my attorney to reopen the estate due to a pending lawsuit. However, my attorney is not familiar with probate and unable to help me. I called the probate court and they would not tell me how to reopen the estate or what forms need to be completed.

Asked on December 5, 2011 under Estate Planning, Georgia


L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding the reopening of an estate.  You should be aware that reopening an estate can be a difficult process, because you need to provide the judge with a good reason to reopen the estate.  If there are new assets discovered, such as cash, real property, stocks, etc., then the judge may have a reason to reopen the estate.  If there is a problem with how the property was distributed, such as the administrator did not follow the guidelines of the will, or if the will was discovered after the property was distributed through probate, then the judge will further evaluate the case. 

You will also need to show that you have legal standing to reopen the case, this means that you are considered an interested party and that you will benefit from the estate being reopened.  The court will not want to reopen the estate for someone who will not benefit from the estate’s reopening.  This will only add to the backlog with the courts, and be a general waste of the court’s resources and time.   

You stated that you have been talking with an attorney, but you may benefit from consulting with a wills and estates attorney.  They will be more familiar with the rules specifically pertaining to your state and know the process and likelihood of reopening the estate.  Otherwise, you can contact the judicial district court yourself, and the court clerk can guide you to find the proper forms to be completed. They may also provide you with pamphlets and reading material so that you have a good understanding of the proof you will need to show just cause to reopen the estate. 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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