Get answers to frequently asked questions about the probate process.
What is probate?
Probate is the court-involved process that proves the validity of a will, determines the proper heirs of an estate, and ensures that creditors are paid from assets of the estate and that heirs receive the estate property to which they are legally entitled. The probate process often involves standing in front of a judge to become appointed as a personal representative. Afterward, the assets are gathered and distributed according to instructions of the will or according to state intestacy laws when there is no will.
Does a valid will avoid probate?
Wills do not avoid probate. Wills have no legal authority until the willmaker (“testator”) dies, the original will is delivered to the probate court, and a hearing is held to determine the will’s validity.