What is probate?

Probate is generally the process of court oversight of the estate administration process after a person passes away. Only certain assets are considered probate in nature. Probate assets typically are those owned by the decedent in the decedent's individual name (not jointly with others) and without a beneficiary designated. The Executor, where there is a will, or Administrator, where there is no will, is appointed by the Register of Wills Office in the county where the decedent last resided. He or she then must follow the probate procedures to properly complete the estate administration. However, most of our estates are ended informally and without the need to follow the entire and formal probate proces. This can result in substantial savings of time and money for an estate and is ususally accomplished by careful administration and a contract with all parties to protect the executor from personal liability.
David M. Frees, III
Attorney, Speaker and Author