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Informal Probate

What is informal probate?

Informal probate is a court process that allows the Personal Representative to transfer the property of a person who died to the persons who are supposed to receive it with minimal court supervision. If a probate is necessary, this is the most common type.

An informal probate includes these steps:

In an informal probate, the Personal Representative can take these steps without asking the court for approval. Informal probate is simpler than formal probate. In fact, informal probate cases usually don’t require any hearings.

This section covers what to do when you want to (1) open an informal probate and (2) appoint a Personal Representative. If you want to do only one of these things or if one of these things has already been done, it is a good idea to talk to a probate lawyer.

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How do I qualify for informal probate?

To qualify for informal probate, you must meet all of these requirements:

Some estates are small enough that they have fewer requirements and are called “small estates.” To determine if the estate qualifies as a small estate, prepare an Inventory of all property to determine the value. Then, add up the following:

If the total value of all estate property in the Inventory, after subtracting liens and debts against the property, is less than all of the above amounts added together, the estate qualifies as a small estate. Learn more about Small Estates.

If you do not meet all of these requirements you will usually need to petition for formal probate.

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How do I get started?

You will need to gather the following documents and file them with the court:

You will need to prepare the following documents and file them with the court:

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How do I request that the court open the informal probate and appoint the Personal Representative?

You must file a document to ask the court to open an informal probate and appoint you as Personal Representative. If the person who died made a Will, you can file:

Request to Start Informal Probate and Appoint a Personal Representative When There Is a Will, P-315 Adobe Acrobat PDF logo

If the person who died did not make a Will, the document is usually called:

Application for Informal Appointment of Personal Representative in Intestacy

Below is a simplified list of things you must say in the Application. You should read Alaska Statute 13.16.080 to make sure that your Application is complete. If you have any questions, you should talk to a probate lawyer.

You must tell the court the following:

(1) Why you are an interested person in the estate of the person who died.

(2) Information about the person who died, including:

(3) If the person is not an Alaska resident, why probate should be opened in Alaska.

(4) The name and address of any Personal Representative who is already appointed.

(5) Whether you have received a Demand for Notice or know of any Demand for Notice or other probate proceeding.

(6) It has been three years or less since the person died.

*Important: You must sign a "verification" under oath that all of these statements are true and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief. You can do this before a notary.

If the person who died did not make a valid Will, you must tell the court:

Sign the Application under oath before a notary.

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How do I prepare the document for the court to open the probate and appoint the Personal Representative?

You must file a document, which the court will sign when it opens the informal probate and appoints you as Personal Representative. If the person who died made a Will, you can file:

Statement Starting Informal Probate and Appointing a Personal Representative When there is a Will, P-316 Adobe Acrobat PDF logo

If the person who died did not make a Will, the document is usually called:

Statement of Informal Appointment of Personal Representative in Intestacy

Below is a simplified list of things you must say in the Statement. You should read Alaska Statute 13.16.090 and Alaska Statute 13.16.115 to make sure that the Statement is complete. If you have any questions, you should talk to a probate lawyer.

You must say the following in the Statement:

Do not sign the Statement. Leave a space for the court to sign the Statement when it opens the informal probate.

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How do I prepare the Acceptance of Duties by Personal Representative and Letters?

You must file a document that

  1. states you accept your duties as Personal Representative, and
  2. proves that you have the right to be the Personal Representative

If the person who died made a Will, you can file:

Acceptance of Duties by Personal Representative and Letters Testamentary by Court, P-335 Adobe Acrobat PDF logo

If the person who died did not make a Will, the document is usually called:

Letters of Administration and Statement of Acceptance of the Duties of Personal Representative

Below is a simplified list of things you must say in the Letters and Statement of Acceptance. You should read Probate Rule 7 to make sure that your document is complete. If you have any questions, you should talk to a probate lawyer.

You must say the following in the Letters:

You must say the following in the Statement of Acceptance:

Sign the Statement of Acceptance before a notary. Do not sign the Letters. Leave a space for the court to sign the Letters when it appoints you as Personal Representative.

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How do I file bond?

Read more about filing a bond or waiving bond.

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How long does it take the court to open the informal probate and appoint a Personal Representative?

The court will not sign the Letters or appoint a Personal Representative until a certain amount of time has passed:

After the waiting period, the court usually takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to approve and sign the Letters.

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How will I know when I have been appointed as Personal Representative?

The court will mail these documents to you:

You can also pick the documents up directly from the court if you need them sooner. Call the court to find out whether they are ready.

It is a good idea to ask for 3 to 5 extra certified copies of the Letters since you will need to show the Letters to companies when you transfer property owned by the person who died. Many companies will ask to keep a certified copy for their records. The court charges a small fee for extra certified copies of the Letters.

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What do I do after I am appointed as Personal Representative?

For information on how to use the Letters and your duties as Personal Representative, see Personal Representative Duties and Responsibilities.

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Rev. 23 September 2014
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