Probate Law

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims against the estate, and distributing the deceased person's property. If a person dies with a will, these are sometimes called testamentary probate proceedings. If they died without a will, the person is said to have died intestate.

Testamentary Probate

Generally, when one leaves a will behind there is little to take through probate. It is often simply a matter of appointing an executor (sometimes called a personal representative) to administer the estate and see to it that the assets and obligations of the estate are handled according to the directions set forth in the will. However, in some instances, potential heirs or other creditors may challenge the contents of the will, asserting that they are entitled to more than what has been left for them. Under these circumstances, a probate court decides whose claims are valid or not and makes the appropriate adjustments to the final distribution of assets under the probated will. Much as in bankruptcy, potential creditors must be notified of the probate proceeding, but if they fail to make timely claims, or their claims are or lesser priority to those of other beneficiaries or creditors, their claims are extinguished.

Intestate Proceedings

When one dies without leaving a will, the probate court is sometimes called upon to distribute the deceased person's assets according to state laws. Again, these proceedings are often handled much like bankruptcy cases, with priorities being established and untimely and inferior claims being extinguished by court order. Generally, after satisfying certain creditors, spouses are entitled to the largest share of a decedent's estate, followed by children, then other close family members.

Uniform Probate Code

In the United States, in order to deal with the often conflicting and contradictory state probate laws, a Uniform Probate Code was suggested. Many states have opted to adopt it, or large portions of it, making the probate process much more uniform between different jurisdictions. However, a few states have not yet adopted its provisions, making it critical to determine which laws may affect the probating of an estate, particularly if there are assets located in multiple states, such as homes.

More Information

For more information about probate, visit the resources listed below. Additionally, should you need more information or legal assistance with a probate related issue, you can find an attorney in your area by visiting our Law Firms page.


Know Your Rights!

  • A Guide to Probate Law

    Probate law refers to the process that manages any assets and debts left behind by a deceased person. There are many different branches of probate law, such as the creation of wills and trusts before death, understanding state inheritance laws if there is no will on file, and contesting a will or trust. In this comprehensive guide, learn more about each aspect of the probate process and what to do if you are an executor, beneficiary, or power of attorney for someone who has recently died.

  • What Happens to Property if There is No Will?
  • Why Is It Important to Have a Will?

Probate Law Articles

  • The Importance of Properly Titled Deeds in Estate Planning
    Estate planning is a critical process that ensures the smooth transfer of assets and property to your chosen beneficiaries after your passing. One vital aspect of estate planning is the proper titling of your deed. The way you hold title to your property can have significant implications for its management, transfer, and tax consequences.
  • The Basics of Medicaid Planning: A Comprehensive Guide
    Medicaid planning is a critical financial strategy for individuals and families seeking to secure long-term healthcare coverage while protecting their assets. Whether you’re approaching retirement or assisting a loved one in their senior years, understanding the fundamentals of Medicaid planning can make a significant difference in navigating the complex world of healthcare finance. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics to get you started.
  • The Importance of Powers of Attorney for College Students
    Estate planning is a critical consideration for individuals of all ages, and college students are no exception. While it might not be the most exciting topic on a student’s mind, taking the time to create essential legal documents like Powers of Attorney can provide invaluable protection and peace of mind. Here, we’ll delve into why you should prioritize establishing Powers of Attorney for college students. We’ll explain how these documents can make a significant difference during crucial moments.
  • How to Administer Your Loved One's Estate: A Short Synopsis in 2 Minutes or Less
    This a brief description of what you need to do initially which will save you time and money in the end. Do not wait to hire an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you do not need to wait for legal assistance. Our office has helped thousands of families obtain legal assistance, maximize the estate and their inheritance and save time for no money for legal retainers and no monthly bills to pay.
  • Choosing a Guardian for Your Children
    When it comes to our children, we all plan for their future. We consider school districts when buying a house, find activities that fit their interests, sacrifice weekends to take them to practice or events, save money for college and try to instill in them different skills and values that will help in life. In all that planning, it is crucial to also include your wishes if something happens to you. Perhaps nothing is more important when planning your children’s future than selecting guardians for you minor children.
  • Inheritance Rights in New York State: Who Has the Right to Inherit When a Family Member Dies
    Many family members do not know their rights, and when they are grieving, the last thing they are thinking about is the estate and legal aspects.
  • Beneficiary Designations in Estate Planning
    Estate planning is a critical aspect of financial management that allows individuals to ensure the smooth transition of their assets, values, and legacies to their loved ones after their passing. While many people associate estate planning with wills and trusts, one often overlooked aspect that plays a crucial role in the process is beneficiary designations. These designations allow you to designate individuals or your trust to receive specific assets upon your death. This process bypasses the probate process and provides numerous benefits for both you and your beneficiaries.
  • Benefits of Family Participation in Estate Planning
    Estate planning is a critical process that aims to ensure the smooth transfer of wealth and assets from one generation to the next. But it is also much more than that. While the technical aspects of estate planning often revolve around wills, trusts, and tax considerations, one key element that is often overlooked is the power of family meetings. These gatherings offer a unique opportunity for families to come together. They can discuss their wishes and create a shared understanding of their estate plans. The significance of family meetings in estate planning and the benefits they bring to both the present and future generations should not be overlooked.
  • Probate in New Jersey
    When someone passes away with a valid Will, the Executor becomes the person who carries out the terms of the Will. When there is no Will the process becomes much more difficult and expensive and is called an Administration.
  • What Is a Kinship Proceeding ?
    When someone passes away without a Will also referred to as intestate proceeding, you may have to prove your family relations through a kinship proceeding. As a cousin, you will have to file claims and pleadings, present the evidence in order to claim your right to the inheritance. This matter can be complicated and you should retain an attorney who is familiar with this proceeding. The rules are different in each county in New York State. You must timely file and satisfy all court rules to be successful.
  • All Estate Planning Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Estate Planning including: estate and trust, inheritance law, personal property, probate, wills.

Probate Law - US

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