What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. The purpose of probate is to ensure that the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to their wishes as stated in their will, or, if the person died without a will, according to the laws of the state in which they lived.
The probate process involves several steps, including:
- Filing the will with the probate court and opening an estate
- Appointing a personal representative (also known as an executor) to manage the estate
- Identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s assets
- Paying debts and taxes
- Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will (or according to state law if there is no will)
The probate process can be time-consuming and expensive, and it is generally public, meaning that the details of the estate and the distribution of assets are a matter of public record.
One way to avoid the probate process is to create an estate plan, which can include measures such as establishing trusts, transferring assets to beneficiaries through joint ownership or transfer-on-death designations, and using payable-on-death bank accounts.