What is Probate?Probate, What It Is, and How A Probate Attorney Can Help You

Probate is somewhat like a split off court system created solely to administer to estates of people who die, guardianships, and conservatorships. This means that the same court that appoints a conservator for an incapacitated person may also administer that person's estate after they die, several years later.

In a probate proceeding, the court oversees the process of identifying the deceased person's property, identifying the proper heirs, paying any debts owed by the estate, and distributing the remaining property to the eligible heirs. Most of the work is done by a personal representative,  usually a relative or friend of the deceased person, with the assistance of an attorney. The process usually also requires the aid of an accountant and one or more appraisers in the process of determining proper accounting and conducting property valuations.

Many states have laws that state that the decedent's will must be filed in the relevant district court within a certain amount of time (typically 10 days), even if there is to be no formal estate administration. This requirement is meant to ensure that estates will be dealt with in a reasonable amount of time, and also typically details how potential heirs should be notified.

An experienced Probate Attorney can  help you navigate your way through the somewhat complicated process.