The term probate means “proving the will” through a court proceeding. It is the process by which an estate is settled and distributed through a long and somewhat costly court proceeding. Probate can be avoided by proper estate planning such as creating a Living Trust.
If a formal probate court procedure is required it usually takes from seven to nine months or more to complete unless you are dealing with a very complicated estate. Most of the decedent’s estate will be passed to the persons named in his or her will, or, if there is no will, to certain close relatives according to priorities established by state law (called “intestate succession”).
In the probate process a person must petition the court and attend a hearing to be granted authority to settle the estate. Notice of the petition must be published in a newspaper in the city where the decedent lived once each week for 3 consecutive weeks. After authority is granted, a Probate Referee is assigned to appraise certain assets of the estate. After a four month period the estate representative can petition the court for distribution of the assets. Unless the heirs waive an accounting the representative must furnish a formal estate accounting to the court. Upon approval, the estate representative then distributes the assets. The final step is for the representative to petition the court to be discharged of his or her duties.
If probate is necessary About Justice can assist you through the process as quickly as possible at a fraction of the cost of using an attorney.