Probate Basics

legalProbate, which stems from the classic Latin term meaning “to prove” or “proven”, is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person by resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person’s property either under a valid will or when the decedent has died intestate (without a will) to their heirs and beneficiaries.

Probate is also the process by which the property of a decedent is re-titled.  As with any legal proceeding, there are technical aspects to probate and trust administration.

Here are just a few:

  • Creditors need to be notified and legal notices published.
  • Trustees need to be guided in how and when to distribute assets and how to take creditors’ rights into account.
  • A Petition to appoint a personal representative (executor/administrator) may need to be filed and Letters of Administration obtained.
  • If the estate is not automatically devised to a surviving spouse through joint tenancy or is not held within a trust, the estate will need to be probated whether or not the decedent had a valid will.

Please note that this is just a brief and informative overview of what can be a very lengthy and involved probate process.  Embedded in this newsletter please find a more in-depth information regarding the probate process as published by the CLTA – UNDERSTANDING PROBATE 



Most important to remember is that probate and trust administration laws vary from state to state.  For answers to your technical probate questions, please consult the proper professional.