Probate is a legal process that takes place after a person passes away.  Probate involves validating a decedent’s will, or administering a decedent’s estate under the laws of intestacy, collecting, managing and ultimately distributing a decedent’s assets under the terms of his or her will or the laws of intestacy as well as ascertaining and paying expenses and debts of the decedent and the decedent’s estate.

The probate process falls under the jurisdiction of the probate court and is generally commenced in the state and county where the decedent was domiciled at the time of his or her death.

A probate can be commenced informally or formally.  An informal probate is usually the preferable method of filing a probate.  Informal probate usually does not involve court hearings and is generally a quicker, simpler and less expensive option than a formal probate.   A formal probate is more closely supervised by the court and is generally commenced when there are disputes among the heirs of the estate or questions as to the validity of the will.

If a person dies owning real property or other assets in excess of a statutory amount in more than one state, an ancillary probate may need to be filed in that state to clear legal title to the decedent’s property.