What is Probate?

Probate is a court process by which the estate of a deceased person (the decedent) is administered so that creditors can be paid and property can be transferred to whomever will receive it. It’s not really to benefit those who inherit; it’s actually for the benefit of the decedent’s creditors. With a Will or without one, if an individual dies owning any asset in his or her name, without a living named beneficiary or without a right of survivorship co-owner, that property must pass through the probate system in order to eventually end up in someone else’s name. The status of the decedent’s debt situation at his or her death Will determine whether all the assets will go to the creditors or whether assets Will be available to distribute. Depending on where the decedent lived at his or her death, the process can take from 4 months to more than a year. It can also be costly. The attorney will get paid to handle the court process and the personal representative (also known as an executor or administrator) can also get paid. I practice in Florida where both the personal representative and the attorney can take 3% of the inventory value.

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