What is probate?

You may have heard that you should avoid probate. But what is probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process used to distribute someone’s assets after he or she passes away. What typically happens is that someone out there – maybe a kid, maybe a creditor — is going to have an interest in getting your stuff transferred over to someone who can wrap your affairs up for you after you’re gone. But they can’t just walk in to the county clerk’s office, for example, tell them that you’re dead, and ask for your house. At a minimum, the county clerk would want to know, “Who are you? How do we know the owner of this property is dead? How do we know you’re legally entitled to receive it?”

The probate court is the place your family or creditors will go to get those questions answered, and to get the documentation they will need to prove to the county clerk, your bank, and other people and institutions holding your property, that they now have the right to take ownership of your property.

Probate is not necessary for everyone. To learn more about other ways to transfer property after you pass away, see our other video on when probate is required, or give us a call.

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