Probate is a legal process of proving a person’s will to be valid and supervising the distribution the estate’s assets. The word probate is derived from the Latin verb “probatio” which means to prove. During the probate process, your Personal
Representative, along with his or her attorney, will petition the court to prove your will is valid. If proven valid, the Probate Court will supervise a series of legal processes to distribute your assets. The exact process varies from state
In the final step of the probate process, the Personal Representative, along with his or her attorney, will file a Petition with the court requesting approval for final distribution of the remaining estate assets.
Once approved by the court, the estate’s assets are distributed to the named beneficiaries. Afterward, something commonly called a Declaration for Final Discharge is often filed with the court to request the closing of the estate.
Wills are subject to challenge. Any person with an interest (such as a disinherited child) in the distribution of the estate can challenge the validity of the will. The usual basis for these challenges are incapacity, undue influence and
fraud (will is a fake). If a judge believes that the will was a product of any of these issues, it will be declared invalid and estate will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws. A substantial percentage of all wills
challenged are declared invalid.
In a Word, Probate = Uncertainty
That uncertainty can lead to unnecessary exposure that could affect you and your family, both emotionally and financially.