Probate is the legal process through which a person’s estate is administered and distributed after their death. Probate is intended to ensure that the deceased person’s debts are paid and that the remaining assets are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries based on the person’s will or the laws of intestacy if there is no will. 

A court in the jurisdiction where the deceased person lived oversees the probate process and appoints an executor or personal representative to administer the estate. Administering a deceased person’s estate can involve several steps such as notifying heirs or beneficiaries, identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s assets, appraising the value of the estate, paying debts and taxes, and more. In addition to the state where the person lived, the probate process may also need to be completed in each state where the deceased person owned property.

Depending on how the deceased person planned for their estate, some assets may be eligible to bypass probate and pass directly to beneficiaries. For example, assets held in a trust are typically not subject to probate.

In some cases, probate can be a long and complicated process, though many states have taken measures to simplify the probate process. In complex cases, the executor may need to hire professional legal or financial counsel for assistance. 

Read more about navigating probate here.

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