Probate is the court-administered process, supervised by a judge, that manages someone’s estate after that person has passed away. It can take time, effort, and money.
Probate is governed by the laws of the state in which the individual lived at the time of death. The estate is documented and presented to the court, generally by family members or someone interested in obtaining the assets of the estate. The Court, guided by state statutes, will appoint an administrator (generally the “next of kin”) for the estate. The administrator will be directed by the court to distribute assets to those persons defined by state law to receive them. Where children are involved the court will appoint a guardian to protect their interests.
Probate has advantages and disadvantages but does not need to be feared. Probate has a place in a well-planned estate and, if planned well, can be more of an administrative process when you have either a well-planned estate or an advocate who is willing to explain the process and walks with you every step of the way. Or probate can be avoided entirely with advance planning.