How Does Probate Work?

Probate is the process in which the final business of your life is wrapped-up. You own stuff, and you may owe people money. Your interest in the stuff is often represented by a title, for example you home. When you die, your interest in your home does not go away, but your ability to sign the transfer documents does. Your bills don’t go away either, but your ability to pay them does. You need someone to obtain legal authority to sign those transfer documents and you pay your final debts, that someone is your Personal Representative or Executor.

Through a last will and testament, you will identify someone to act as your personal representative or executor. That person can take your will to the Court and the Court will then provide them with legal documents that are the evidence that the Personal Representative or Executor has the legal authority to act on your behalf.

The probate process and the Personal Representative’s role is of a legislatively identified duration based on the laws of your state. Generally, that is a minimum of six months. That does not mean everything is on hold for six months, rather it means that for at least six month creditors have to be able to present claims, and interested parties have the ability to make any issues or concerns about your assets known to the court. For most people, it is a pretty easy process, the house is sold, debts and taxes are paid and the remainder is passed on to your children or heirs.