What is Probate?

Last will and testament paperwork close up photograph with pen on top

Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person, known as the decedent, in order to make sure that the decedent’s debts are paid and that the decedent’s assets are properly distributed to his or her beneficiaries. Everything that you own at the time of someone’s death becomes the estate of the deceased person and the estate is what gets processed in probate. However, in order to figure out how the estate will be processed, we must first determine a set of facts to evaluate how to proceed.

One of the first things to determine in probate is whether the decedent died with or without a last will and testament. A last will and testament, or will is a formal document the person directs how his or her assets are to be distributed after death and to whom. It will also indicate who will be the personal representative, or the responsible party to handle the distribution and it can also choose the guardian of a minor child in the event of a parent’s death should there be no surviving biological or adoptive parent.

If the person died without a last will and testament, then the person is considered to have died intestate. This means that now there is a process to determine who receives the decedent’s assets.

Not all estates have to go through probate. If there is a joint ownership or an agreement that names a beneficiary, such as a bank account or life insurance, the assets will be transferred as per the agreement or the transfer of title from having joint ownership. Otherwise, the assets will be transferred through probate.

Casais & Prias, PLLC. can be the guide you need to assist with either preparing you and or your loved ones for probate or actually going through the probate process so that you and your loved ones can feel at ease and rest assured that your interests will be protected.