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What is Probate:

Probate refers to the legal process for distributing the assets of a deceased person.  Probate Court is a special division in the court system for handling this process and other similar matters  When a person goes to the court and asks for an Order to transfer a deceased person’s  assets, it is not called a lawsuit, it is called probate.

Let’s look at some examples of the use of the word probate in a sentence:

  1. No, we cannot sell mom’s house, the estate is still in probate
  1. When I was going through dad’s’ mail after he passed, I saw a bill from the credit card company and I called them to tell them he was no longer with us. I thought that would be enough for them, but then they asked if we had begun probate.
  1. My grandfather left in his Will that I should get the money in his bank account to pay for college, but when I showed the bank teller, they refused to give me the money said they needed the orders from Probate

Probate is necessary for certain assets left in the deceased person’s (decedent’s) name at the time of death. To determine which assets are probate assets, we start by identifying which assets are not.

Probate is usually not necessary for property held as tenants by the entirety, between husband and wife, property held as  joint tenants with rights of survivorship, or for assets that have a named beneficiary, or assets already in a trust. Assets that transfer automatically upon death do not go through probate.

Did you know that Probate and Wills are virtually marriage partners?

If a person dies without a Will, state laws decide who gets the property of the decedent. But this does not happen automatically.  When an action is filed in probate court, the assets will get distributed by Court Order. Having died without a will, that Court Order normally corresponds with what the state law says about how property should be divided.

Contact an attorney to learn more about the order of distribution of a person’s property without a Will.

Yet, many people believe that if someone creates a Will before they die then Probate or orders from the court is not necessary.  That is just not true.  But even with a Will, probate may be necessary if assets are not transferred to heirs and beneficiaries by some other means.

A Will does not transfer property. An order from Probate court does. A Will is a writing that records what the person wants done with his or her property after s/he has passed on.  If you do not want to follow what the state says about who is entitled to get your property, you need a Will. Once your Will is in probate, the court ensures that the right process is followed.

Simply put, the probate process is a system for making sure that assets that don’t transfer automatically go to the right individuals upon a person’s death.


Maybe you’ve heard it said, and it is true, many people want to avoid probate. Probate can be costly and it can take some time to administer.  If you are in the process of doing your estate planning, your experienced attorney will offer you alternatives that may help you to avoid probate.

However, if you are a beneficiary or heir to property and you need to go to probate court, the probate administration process does not have to be dreaded and long.  Probate can take weeks months, or more than a year. The time varies. Probate can be had with minimal delay and in a cost-efficient manner.

If you are looking for a caring, competent and trusted attorney to handle your probate matter. Contact us for an appointment:

954-224-2508 or go to our website:

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