What is Probate?

What is Probate?

Understanding what Probate is and how it works is essential to being able to make good decisions for yourself and your loved ones about your estate planning needs. In this post, we take a look at the purpose of Probate and the basic things that need to be done in a Probate proceeding.

Probate is a proceeding in the county court system that is used to allow a person to manage the property and affairs of a person who is no longer able to manage their own estate. If the person is incompetent, the Probate proceeding is called a Guardianship. If they are deceased, then it is called an Estate Administration.

The essential elements of an Estate Administration in Probate are:

  1. Identifying and valuing the person's assets;
  2. Identifying and verifying the debts and claims against the estate;
  3. Selling assets that need to be sold;
  4. Paying the valid debts and claims, including final medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, taxes, and administration expenses; and finally
  5. Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will (if there was a Will) or to the heirs in accordance with the law (if there was no Will).

Most people have heard that Probate should be avoided if possible. To learn why, you can read our article Why Avoid Probate.

To learn more about estate planning issues and ways to plan your estate to avoid Probate and protect your loved ones, watch one of our Webinars.