Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person's estate. This includes identifying and collecting the assets of the deceased person, paying off any outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as outlined in the will or according to state laws.
During probate, a court-appointed representative, known as the personal representative or executor, is responsible for overseeing the process and ensuring that the deceased person's assets are distributed according to the will or state laws. The probate process can be time-consuming and expensive, and it is a matter of public record.
Probate is typically required when a person passes away with assets in their own name that do not have a beneficiary designation or that are not held in a trust. However, some states have adopted a simplified probate process, called summary probate, for estates that are of lower value or that are not contested.
Probate can be avoided by creating a trust, transferring assets to beneficiaries during life, or by designating beneficiaries on assets like bank accounts, insurance policies, and retirement accounts.
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