Probate: What and When?

Posted on September 30, 2011 in Estate Planning, Personal Representation

Probate is the process by which the assets of a person who has died (i.e., the “decedent”) are distributed to his or her heirs or beneficiaries and the debts of the decedent are satisfied by the decedent’s executor (if the decedent dies with a will) or the decedent’s administrator (if the decedent dies without a will).

Probate may be necessary if the decedent has died with a will (i.e., the decedent has died “testate”). But, it may also be necessary if the decedent has died without a will (i.e., the decedent has died “intestate”). How the decedent’s assets are held, the type of assets he or she had, and the value of his or her assets at the time of death will all impact whether probate is necessary.

If a loved one has passed away and you are unsure whether probate is necessary, you should consult with an attorney. To get the most out of your meeting with the attorney, you should bring with you as much information you have regarding the decedent’s assets.