With over 30 years of experience in Estate Planning, Guardianship, Probate, and Elder Law, Attorney Mark A. Roseman can help you and your family plan for the day you are gone. Every client we meet has different needs and wishes about how they want their estate handled once they pass, and we pride ourselves in providing tailored assistance to each and every one of our clients to make sure their specific wishes and desires are met.
Probate refers to the process whereby certain of decedent's debts may be settled and legal title to the decedent's property held in the decedent's name alone and not otherwise distributed by law is transferred to heirs and beneficiaries. If a decedent had a will, and the decedent had property subject to probate, the probate process begins when the executor, who is nominated by the decedent in the last will, presents the will for probate in a courthouse in the county where the decedent lived, or owned property. If there is no will, someone must ask the court to appoint him or her as administrator of the decedent's estate. Often, this is the spouse or an adult child of the decedent. Once appointed by the court, the executor or administrator becomes the legal representative of the estate.
Most people think of probate as involving a will. If a person dies and leaves a will, then probate is required to implement the provisions of that will. However, a probate process also can happen if a person dies without a will and has property that needs to be distributed under the state intestacy law (the law of inheritance). If the decedent owned an account that named a beneficiary (such as a retirement account) but the beneficiary has passed away before the owner of the account, probate law requires that account to go through the court so that the funds can be passed to the person legally entitled to them under state law.