What Does Probating a Will Mean?

By Catherine McNally

The will probate process may seem complex on the surface. A closer examination, however, reveals that the process is actually relatively straightforward. At its core, probate involves the state court oversight of a will's authentication and the distribution of an estate's assets.

The will probate process may seem complex on the surface. A closer examination, however, reveals that the process is actually relatively straightforward. At its core, probate involves the state court oversight of a will's authentication and the distribution of an estate's assets.

Probate Petition

To commence probate, the decedent's will must first be filed with the applicable court which, in most jurisdictions, is the court of the county where the decedent last resided. The executor or another interested party petitions the court to probate the will.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Probate Notice

Many states require that notice be given to any interested parties immediately following the filing of a probate petition. This allows parties to make claims against the estate or contest the will, if necessary.

Executor Appointment

The court appoints an executor to administer the estate. In many cases, the decedent's choice of executor is named in the will.

Will Authentication and Validation

The court must determine the will's authenticity and validity, which typically involves insuring that the decedent's signature is genuine. Validation requires that the circumstances surrounding the will's formation complied with applicable state law. The court must also ensure that no later wills exist.

Asset Inventory

Also included in the probate process is an inventory of the property and assets that will be transferred to beneficiaries. A decedent’s estate consists of property owned solely by the decedent, and excludes jointly held property.

Claims Against Estate

Any claims against the estate must be settled before the court can make a final inventory of all property and assets. Claims may include outstanding debts or ownership disputes over property. The executor must also pay any applicable taxes, fees and expenses owed by the estate.

Will Contest Settlement

The probate court also decides any will contest, which is a challenge to the validity of the will or its terms. Bases for a contest include undue influence on the decedent or a decedent's impaired mental state at the time of writing the will.

Estate Distribution

Once any claims against the estate have been resolved, and taxes and expenses have been paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to beneficiaries in accordance with the will’s terms. If there was a will contest, the executor distributes as directed by the settlement. All beneficiaries must sign a release waiving any further claims against the estate. Once the asset transfer occurs, the estate closes and probate concludes.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
What to Expect in Tennessee Probate Court

References

Related articles

What Are the Steps to Probate a Will?

In most cases, unless an estate is very small, the probate process is court-supervised. The deceased’s debts have to be paid and his property has to be distributed to whoever he named in his will. Wills usually appoint an executor, the person who takes care of the details of the process according to court rules and deadlines.

Can a Non-Lawyer Bring a Will to Probate Court?

Probate is the process of ensuring a will's validity and carrying out the instructions it contains. The probate process is overseen by a probate court, but the actual work on the estate is typically done by the estate's executor or personal representative. A non-lawyer may file a will to open the probate estate and may serve as executor.

Idaho Law Regarding Death & Probate

When an Idaho resident dies, his property may be subject to probate. Probate is the process of transfering ownership of a decedent's property to others. Probate courts appoint executors, also called personal representatives, who have the job of transferring a decedent's property to heirs. Not all estates require probate. Some estate planning tools, called will substitutes, bypass probate court. Trusts and joint tenancies are examples of will substitutes.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Is it Necessary to Probate a Last Will & Testament?

A will is a statement of your intentions for the division of your estate after your death. When circumstances demand an ...

When to Probate a Will in Tennessee?

Probate is a necessary process an executor must complete to distribute the assets of an estate pursuant to the ...

Probating a Small Estate in Hawaii

Probate is a court-supervised process involving the collection and distribution of assets owned by a deceased person. ...

Timeframe for Probating a Will

Probate exists not only to simplify the process of distributing the assets of a deceased person, known as the decedent, ...

Browse by category