What is probate?

Probate is the legal process that supervises the transfer of assets from the decedent (the person who has died) to his or her heirs or beneficiaries. It ensures that the decedent’s directives are fulfilled to the extent permissible by law while providing that all just debts are paid.

A will’s validity is assessed by the probate court. A personal representative is appointed by the probate judge. This is generally the named executor or executrix if there is a will, or an administrator if no executor/executrix is named or qualified. The personal representative then manages the affairs of the state subject to the jurisdiction and oversight of the probate court.

A simple estate can be wrapped up in months, while a more complicated estate can take years. Even if a will is not contested, it can take a good deal of time to locate and validate the will, find all the beneficiaries and evaluate and satisfy the claims of creditors. Probate fees (including attorney’s fees) can run from 3-7% of the estate’s value.

Any interested person can bring the original will to the probate court in the county where the decedent permanently resided at time of death, although this is normally done by the named executor or executrix. Jurisdiction may also lie in an area where the decedent owned real property.
Probate is a public, legal process supervised by the courts after a person dies. It helps ensure that debts are paid and assets are properly owned and correctly distributed. Certain items do not go through probate, including jointly owned property (such as a house), property placed in a legal trust, and financial assets that have a designated beneficiary, such as life insurance policies and 401(k) accounts. If the deceased did not write a will, the estate will be divided among family members according to state law. A representative appointed by the court may oversee this. If there is a will, it will name an executor to oversee the division of the estate.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.