Probate is the legal process used by the Courts to administer a decedent's estate. Some of the more common reasons for the probate process are to clear title to property, give notice and pay creditors, and if the decedent had a will, to disburse the estate property in accordance with their will.
A person’s estate consists of all property that was owned by the deceased at the time of death that was not otherwise transferred outside of probate. A common example of a non-probate asset would be a bank account held as a joint account with right of survivorship or (JTWRS).
Once a probate has been opened it stays opened until all debtors are dealt with, title is transferred correctly, taxes are paid, and any other loose ends that need to be addressed are taken care of. Typically there is an estate representative that works with the attorney to handle all of these tasks this person is referred to as the executor if there is a will or an administrator if there is not a will. The executor is a person named in the will. An administrator is typically a family member or close family friend. The role of both the executor and the administrator is to make sure the probate is performed correctly. For this reason going through probate without an attorney can be difficult and burdensome. Once the court sees that the estate has been handled correctly the probate can be closed.
This is just a brief overview of the probate process and should be discussed in more detail with an attorney. If you would like to discuss your situation in more detail please contact our office to schedule an appointment.