What is Probate?

Probate is the process by which the court validates the authenticity of a will; appoints an executor (aka personal representative); and supervises the settlement of an estate, including the payment of bills, filing of tax returns, and transfer of assets to beneficiaries. Every probate estate is unique, but most involve the filing of a petition with the proper probate court; sending notice to heirs and beneficiaries; Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Personal Representative; Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors; Sale of estate assets; Payment of estate taxes, if applicable; and then final distribution of assets to proper beneficiaries. Many people choose to avoid probate by using a Trust as the focus of their estate plan.