What is Probate?

QUESTION: What is Probate?


More specifically, what is Death Probate?


Short Answer: Death Probate is the process of transferring one’s assets that do not transfer automatically upon death.


Explanation: When a person dies, they generally leave behind the assets they accumulated. Assets that do not cease to exist upon death (such as a pension), are not jointly held with another living person or entity (such as a house or bank account), do not have a beneficiary listed (such as a bank account or life insurance), or are not included in a Trust are generally included in our “Estate”. These Estate assets need further action and someone with authority to transfer them to the desired recipients. Probate lends the authority to the person and controls the process of transferring these assets. Please note that a “Last Will and Testament” does not avoid the Probate process but rather is the “instructions” for the Probate Court and Personal Representative.


Caution: There are many techniques to transferring assets after death, all of which have very different intended and unintended consequences, often times potentially very costly. Before engaging in estate planning, one should always consult with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney who focuses on this type of law.


Please note that the above question is intended for education and informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice. Every situation is vastly different and thus the need for one-on-one legal advice from an experienced attorney. Every reader of this article is encouraged to seek out an experienced attorney to advise on their specific circumstances.