What is a probate ?

3 Replies

In the simplest terms it's the official process through which a decedent's assets are marshaled (gathered), creditors are given an opportunity to make and prove claims against those assets, and eventually the heirs or beneficiaries are paid their percentage of the remainder. 

Process (or lack thereof) differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

@Sean Beksinski What Tom said. You most certainly want to research the process in your jurisdiction because it is vastly different area to area, especially as it pertains to one, how real estate passes through the estate and two, how the process is properly recorded in the Real Estate records in that jurisdiction. For specific questions on the filing process and where to start, most probate courts offer great information on their websites or, just by giving them a call if needed.

Probate (the legal term for gathering the assets of a deceased person to pay his/her debts and distributing the balance to the beneficiaries) is a court-supervised process which can span from several months to several years, depending on the complexity of the case.

Most probates close in less than 2 years but almost all probates complete 3 phases. 

Appointment ~ court appoints an estate representative "Administrator" (no will) or "Executor" (will).

Administration ~ The estate representative or PR ~ resolves all claims and debts against the estate.

And Closing (In CA ~ Final Distribution) ~ The estate representative ~ Prepares final report and accounting for submission to court and beneficiaries for approval.