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What Is Probate Law?

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Probate is the process by which the courts distribute a decedent’s assets and property, either under the direction of a will or through intestate succession.

 

Terms

Key terms used when dealing in probate: a decedent is the deceased individual; an estate is property, tangible or intangible, that is left by the decedent; when a decedent dies without a will, that is called intestate; and intestate succession is the order in which property is distributed to the heirs of a decedent.

 

Basics

When an estate goes through probate, the courts oversee the distribution of a decedent’s property.

Having a will makes the process of figuring what goes to whom much easier; however, if there is no will to follow as a guide, the courts will use the laws of intestacy.

 

What Is Probate Law

 

The Uniform Probate Code

The Uniform Probate Code, which has been adopted by 18 states, is a guideline for distributing property to the spouses of decedents who die intestate.

 

Petitions and Hearings

A petition for probate is to be filed in the county where the decedent was living at the time of his or her death, not the county where the decedent actually died.

 

Avoiding Probate

With proper estate planning and the help of lawyers, probate can be avoided.

Several ways to plan include: creating living trusts; giving gifts while still alive; and keeping joint property with intended heirs.

 

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