The legal process of transferring property upon a person’s death is known as “probate”. Although probate customs and laws have changed over time, the purpose has remained much the same: people formalize their intentions as to the transfer of their property at the time of their death (typically in a will), their property is collected, certain debts are paid from the estate, and the property is distributed.
Today the probate process is a court-supervised process that is designed to sort out the transfer of a person’s property at death. Property subject to the probate process is that owned by a person at death, which does not pass to others by designation of ownership (i.e., life insurance policies and payable on "death" bank accounts). The probate system exists for the protection of all the parties involved and the focus of this article is what occurs in probate.
What Happens in Probate?
The probate process may be contested or uncontested. Most contested issues generally arise in the probate process because a disgruntled heir is seeking a larger share of the decedent’s property than he or she actually received.
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