When a person dies, their will may go through a legal process called probate. This is a way for the court to determine if the will is valid and to give instructions on how the deceased person’s assets should be distributed. Probate can be a lengthy and expensive process, so it is important to understand when it is necessary.
When does a will need to get probated?
If the deceased person owned any property in their name alone, then probate will likely be necessary in order to transfer ownership of that property. Probate may also be required if the deceased person had significant debts. In this case, the probate court will oversee the distribution of assets in order to pay off those debts.
If the deceased person left behind a spouse or children, probate may also be necessary in order to determine custody and support arrangements. In some cases, family members may contest the will, which can require probate in order to resolve those disputes or if there is disagreement among the heirs about the terms of the will.
How does probate work?
The first step in probate is to file the will with the court. The executor named in the will (the person responsible for carrying out the deceased person’s wishes) will need to provide the court with a death certificate and other relevant paperwork.
Once the will has been filed, the court will issue a notice to all interested parties, giving them an opportunity to object to the will if they have grounds to do so.
If there are no objections, the court may then appoint the executor and give them authority to carry out the terms of the will. This may involve selling property, paying debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries.
If the deceased person did not leave a valid will, their assets will likely get distributed according to state law. This can often mean that the assets will go to the deceased person’s spouse or children. In some cases, however, the court may appoint an administrator to oversee the distribution of assets.