Monthly Archives: November 2013

What is Probate?

Probate is, stated simply, a court-supervised process for transferring property to its intended recipients, following the death of the owner.  The goal of probate is to re-title and otherwise transfer a decedent’s property to his or her heirs or other intended recipients, after paying all debts of the estate.  The probate process typically involves the following general steps:

1.  Hiring of an attorney

2.  Opening of the estate with the probate court

3.  Presentation of the will (if there is one) to the court

4.  Appointment, by the court, of a personal representative of the estate

5.  Taking and reporting of the inventory of assets of the estate

6.  Payment of debts of the estate and settlement of similar matters

7.  Distribution of the assets of the estate to intended or legally entitled recipients

8.  Order of discharge from the court; closing of the estate

As a general rule, all property owned by a decedent at his/her time of death is part of the “probate estate” and is subject to administration by the probate court, in order to be legally transferred to a new owner.  This includes all of the following items:

1.  All property not indicated in a valid will

2.  All property transferred by a valid will (Please note: having a will does not avoid probate)

3.  All proceeds from accounts or insurance policies transferred to “the estate of”

Our law firm works with clients to undertake planning and to prepare documents to minimize probate and often avoid it altogether.  We also work with clients who find themselves having to go through this process after a loved one passed away where adequate planning had not been undertaken. In either instance, Schleiffarth Law Firm is committed to working with individuals and families to reach meaningful results.