Filing and Administering a Probate Estate
Probate is the process by which the Court supervises the distribution of a decedent’s assets and ensures that the decedent’s wishes are carried out. Because Probate can be a lengthy procedure, typically lasting between six months and two years depending on the facts involved, many people try to avoid probate through proper Estate Planning.
However, if Estate Planning is never completed or facts change that render the plan ineffective, an estate would still need to be probated. There are four general types of probate: informal unsupervised, informal supervised, formal unsupervised, and formal supervised.
An informal unsupervised probate is the simplest form and tends to be the least burdensome and costly for all of the parties. This is a process overseen loosely by the Court and generally works best when there is a single, clear, and undisputed Will that disposes of all of the decedent’s property.
An informal supervised probate involves more Court oversight and is typically used in cases where there are disputes about distribution of assets that are not accounted for in a Will.
If there are disputes about the validity of a Will, formal probate is typically the process. Once a formal probate is filed, the Court is asked to make a decision regarding the validity of a Will. Once a Will is found to be valid, the Court may, at the request of the parties, either continue direct involvement in the case (supervised) or let the parties work out distribution among themselves, pursuant to the terms of the Will (unsupervised).
In every type of Probate, an Attorney’s advice is critical to help you quickly and efficiently negotiate the Probate system with as little personal liability as possible.