Simply put, a probate court is a specialized court that takes care of debts and properties of a person who has passed away. The foremost responsibility of a probate court judge is to make sure that all the creditors of a deceased person are paid and that all the remaining assets are distributed fairly among the family members or beneficiaries.

A probate court is known by different names in different states. A probate court can be called the orphan’s court, chancery court, and surrogate court.

This article will brief you about the roles and responsibilities of a probate court and the probate process.

How to Probate Without a Will

If a deceased person left no will behind, then all the assets will be transferred in the name of the deceased person’s next of kin, under the light of the state’s probate law. This section of the law is known as intestate succession where the order in which the next of kin inherit is outlined. The spouse of a deceased person gets a share. As for the other members of the family, they inherit according to the details provided in this section.

How to Probate with a Will

When a deceased person leaves a will behind, his or her assets are distributed among the beneficiaries according to the will. In order to probate a will, it’s necessary for the court to determine whether a will is valid or not. If someone contests the validity of the last will and testament, the court will decide if the last will is valid or not.

The Probate Process

The process usually starts when someone files the petition with the probate court to probate a will. The petition is filed by a family member or someone who’s mentioned in the will. The court then issues an order for someone to represent the estate. In most cases, that person is the executor.

The executor is responsible for managing the estate, which involves opening an estate bank account, determining if the claims made by the creditors are valid or not, paying the creditors, publishing legal notices in newspapers, and paying other outstanding bills, like final medical bills and funeral costs. The executor is also responsible for filing the necessary court documents, filing the final tax return, and transferring the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will.

The Cost Involved

If you want to probate a will, the cost will include court filing fees, expenses for publishing notices in newspapers, attorney’s fees, and executor’s fees. If the estate is complex, the cost will also include accountant’s fees.

Simple Probate Process

Several states follow a simple probate procedure for estates that are under a specific value, estates that are of a particular type, or if the entire estate is inherited by a surviving spouse.

Considering the formalities involved in the probate process, people either choose not to probate a will or minimize the amount subject to probate. But it’s rare to avoid probate entirely. That’s why it’s important to have at least the basic understanding of the process, which helps to make an estate plan as well. If you’re seeking advice on the probate law or the probate process, feel free to get in touch with Walus Law Group at 586-954-3250.