It is a term that some might find intimidating: probate. But what exactly is the probate process?
Generally speaking, the probate process is the legal process for sorting out what happens with the property in a person's estate after they pass away. Now, there are many different steps and proceedings this process can involve. Today, we will go over some of the major things that generally occur during the probate process.
One of big steps in the probate process is the identification and collection of the property and rights that are in the deceased's estate.
If an estate has any liabilities, another thing the probate process will typically involve is the paying off of these liabilities. Examples of liabilities an estate can have include taxes and debts.
Another thing the probate process typically involves is the distribution of estate property. What controls this distribution generally depends on whether or not the deceased individual had a vaild will. If the deceased did have a valid will, the will generally controls who estate property goes to (though there are certain narrow situations in which the terms of a valid will may be overridden). If there was no valid will, state intestacy law generally controls estate asset distribution. So, whether or not there was a will can have very significant implications in probate proceedings.
If disputes arise in relation to a deceased's estate and its distribution, the probate process will also generally involve the settling of these disputes. An example of a type of dispute that can arise in connection to a deceased's estate are disputes over whether a given will is in fact valid.
Each stage and phase of the probate process can raise its own particular issues and have its own potential challenges. Experienced probate attorneys can provide families, personal representatives or heirs/beneficiaries with guidance when they are facing difficulties, problems or challenging legal issues in relation to one of the parts of the probate process.
Source: FindLaw, "The Probate Basics," Accessed April, 2016