Probate Law

You are probably already familiar with estate planning and may even have several documents in your personal estate meant for end-of-life purposes. However, you may be less familiar with probate law and what the probate process entails. Here are just a few things you should know about probate law:

1.   The meaning of probate. The term probate refers to the act of proving that a will is legitimate. Today, you will often hear this term used to describe the process that occurs when an estate is administered after a person’s death.

2.   Probate takes several months. While the actual length of probate varies greatly, in general, the probate process can take up to several months to complete. This is because there are many steps that must occur, like identifying all the estate’s assets, dealing with creditor issues, and resolving tax issues. Some probate cases can remain open for years.

3.   Not all assets are probate assets. One aspect of probate law that many people are unfamiliar with is that not all assets are dealt with during the probate process. Only assets that do not automatically get passed to another person upon the death of the estate’s creator are considered probate assets.

4.   An inventory of assets is always required.  Depending on the situation, the estate’s personal representative will need to inventory all the assets included in the estate. In some cases, however, this process may be waived by the court. Even if the court does waive this requirement, the representative for the estate may still have to do this inventory for the sake of any interested parties.