What is Probate?

Q: What is Probate?

Probate is a process that must take place when someone dies with property in their name alone.  Joint accounts and property held by husband and wife as tenants by the entirety are not probate property. Joint property and property held as tenants by the entirety passes to the co-owner(s) immediately upon the death of a Co-owner. Tenancy in common means that the property is held in equal shares and passes to the individual's estate upon death with all tenants in common having equal rights. A person dies "testate" with a will and "intestate" without a will. A will should be filed shortly after the date of death but is often filed much later without penalty. An individual named as Executor under the will must be appointed by the Probate Court in the county where the deceased resided. If a person dies intestate with property, the property passes by the state law of intestacy upon a petition to the Probate Court appointing an Administrator. Intestate property first passes to a surviving spouse and children in equal shares, and if no children, all to the spouse, or if no spouse, to the children equally. If no spouse or children, then it passes to the next level of heirs starting with parents, then siblings, then nieces and nephews, etc.

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