Probate

Probate is the formal court procedure which occurs after death to dispose of personal and real property pursuant to a Last Will and Testament, or if there is no Will, then the property is disposed of pursuant to the relevant state laws.  Each state’s laws vary to some degree on the probate procedure, depending upon the existence of a Will, and the size of the probate estate.

There are many reasons for Probate, but the most important are:  1) allowing the transfer of clear title to real estate owned at death which was not held in joint tenancy with someone else who had the right of survivorship, (2) allowing a Will to be established as the official Will in order to dispose of the estate, and (3) allowing the estate to be distributed to the intended beneficiaries after the payment of all debts and charges against the estate, and cutting off further claims by creditors against the property distributed.

It may be possible to avoid probate altogether, such as through the use of Revocable or Irrevocable Trusts; however, whether or not the court system is used, certain documents must be filed and taxes paid to properly finalize the deceased’s affairs.   For these reasons, a lawyer should be consulted.

We Can Help

Our attorneys handle the following:
  • Probate of Wills
  • Administration of Estates (No Will)
  • Spousal Elective Share Claims
  • Creditor Claims in Estates
  • Will Contests

Frequently Asked Questions

Generally, any personal property which contains a designated beneficiary does not pass through the Probate proceeding, unless your Estate is the designated beneficiary.  Examples would include life insurance policies, retirement plans, and living trusts.  These types of assets would pass to the designated beneficiary, regardless of the terms and language in your Last Will and Testament.  Also, if you own real estate or personal property with someone in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, the real estate would pass to the surviving owner outside of the probate proceeding.  These co-owners will inherit the property, regardless of the terms and language in your Last Will and Testament.

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