Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What is probate?

The legal process of probate dates back hundreds of years and historically has involved the proving of a will. Basically, probate involves the legal administration of the estate of a deceased person to resolve any claims against the estate and distribute the deceased person's property to his or her heirs. If a person dies with a will, their estate is described as "testate." If they die without a will, the estate is intestate.

The person who administers the estate in the U.S. has various names depending on the jurisdiction. They may be called the executor (executrix), administrator (administratrix) and more recently personal representative.

Traditionally in the U.S. the probate process was lengthy and could be very expensive. Beginning in about 1969 some of the states adopted the Uniform Probate Code. Under the Code the fee structure for attorneys in those states was revised and the cost of handling a probate case has decreased dramatically. Most cases, where there are high probate costs involve disputes between the heirs or larger estates with property in various states.


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