Probate is the legal process by which the personal and real property as well as debts left behind by a deceased are dealt with. Typically, probate is supervised in a Surrogate’s Court, and must be in the same state where the decedent died. Probate laws slightly vary from state to state, and hence the need to hire knowledgeable probate lawyers.
The word “probate” can also be used to mean the court where probate is conducted, and the process of distributing the estate assets amongst beneficiaries. By default, every probate process must include the following aspects of estate administration:
Proving the validity of a will, (if a will was actually drafted by the decedent before death);
Appointing an estate administrator if the will didn’t appoint one, or when the will fails the validity check;
Ascribing a total estimated value to all the assets within and out of the estate;
Paying all estate bills and debts;
Identifying and notifying all potential beneficiaries and family members of the deceased;
Distribution of the assets based on the instructions of the will or by intestacy laws.
When a valid last will is absent, estate administration is done based on the intestacy laws of the state of the decedent. The law mandates that a fixed portion of the estate be giving to the spouse of the decedent, while the rest goes to the children. If the decedent died leaving no spouse or kids, the property goes to the next closest living relative.