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Probate is the legal process that occurs when a person passes away, and it involves reviewing their assets and determining how they will be distributed. Whether or not there is a will, probate ensures that the deceased person’s estate is handled appropriately. Let’s explore how probate works both with and without a will:

  1. Probate with a Will:

    • When a person with a will (known as a testator) passes away, the executor named in the will is responsible for initiating the probate process.
    • The executor files the will with the probate court, which then validates its authenticity.
    • The court officially appoints the executor, granting them the legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased.
    • The executor’s duties include collecting assets, paying any remaining debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries according to the will.
  2. Probate without a Will:

    • If a person dies without a will (referred to as intestate), the probate process still takes place.
    • The estate proceeds through the intestate legal process under state law.
    • The probate court judge supervises the administration of the estate, ensuring that assets are distributed according to the state’s intestacy succession laws.
    • The court typically designates a family member or another individual as the administrator to handle the estate.
    • If no next-of-kin can be contacted, the state may take possession of the property through a process called escheat.
Probate can be expensive, confusing and time consuming for your family and loved ones.  And your intended goals and wishes for distribution of your property may not be followed.  Probate may be contested, leaving family members fighting over your estate.  And if your have kids, guardians may need to be appointed to take care of their well being and (potential) inherited property.  You can avoid these potential outcomes with a properly prepared estate plan.

In summary, probate serves to review assets, determine inheritors, and ensure a fair distribution of the deceased person’s estate, whether there is a will or not. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to navigate probate, contact the Gill Law Firm for a consultation.

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