Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is "proved" in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased, or whereby the estate is settled according to the laws of intestacy in the state of residence [or real property] of the deceased at time of death in the absence of a legal will.
Probate is the official way that an estate gets settled under the supervision of the Court. A Personal Representative or Executor, usually a surviving spouse or an adult child, is appointed by the Court if there is no will that specifies a Personal Representative/Executor. Once appointed, this person has the legal authority to gather and value the assets owned by the estate, to pay bills and taxes, and ultimately, to distribute the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries. The main purpose of a probate is to prevent fraud after someone’s death. It's a way to freeze the estate until a judge determines that all the relevant people have been notified, all of the Decedent’s property has been identified and all the Decedent’s creditors have been paid.
Once the necessary steps are completed the court will issue an order distributing any remaining property or funds. Not all estates must go through probate and not all assets are subject to probate. It is best to contact an attorney who specializes in Estate Planning/Probate to assist you during this time.
If you or a loved one need assistance with estate planning or establishing a will or trust, Call Keith & Associates Legal, PLLC today. 918-574-8500