The Probate Process

Typically, when a person dies, what happens to their estate is determined in large part by whether or not they had a will. If they died without a will, their property is distributed to their closest living relatives (usually their spouse and/or children). If they died with a will, on the other hand, their estate is usually distributed according to the will's provisions.

However, before the decedent's (the person who died) assets are distributed according to the provisions of a will, the will typically has to go through a process known as "probate." The probate process is essentially a court proceeding in which a judge decides whether or not a will is valid. Probate court is also where challenges to the will's validity ("will contests") are entertained.

LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor, , Attorney at Law

Typically, a person will be assigned to serve as the representative, or "executor," of the decedent's estate. They are responsible for seeing the probate process through. They are typically compensated out of the assets of the estate, or they are the person who stands to inherit the most once the probate process is complete (giving them an incentive to do all the necessary work). Read more.


Alabama Probate Lawyers

Show Alabama Cities

Alaska Probate Lawyers

Show Alaska Cities

Arizona Probate Lawyers

Show Arizona Cities

Arkansas Probate Lawyers

Show Arkansas Cities

California Probate Lawyers

Show California Cities

Colorado Probate Lawyers

Show Colorado Cities

Connecticut Probate Lawyers

Show Connecticut Cities

Delaware Probate Lawyers

Show Delaware Cities

Florida Probate Lawyers

Show Florida Cities

Georgia Probate Lawyers

Show Georgia Cities

Hawaii Probate Lawyers

Show Hawaii Cities

Idaho Probate Lawyers

Show Idaho Cities

Illinis Probate Lawyers

Show Illinis Cities

Indiana Probate Lawyers

Show Indiana Cities

Iowa Probate Lawyers

Show Iowa Cities

Kansas Probate Lawyers

Show Kansas Cities

Kentucky Probate Lawyers

Show Kentucky Cities

Louisiana Probate Lawyers

Show Louisiana Cities

Maine Probate Lawyers

Show Maine Cities

Maryland Probate Lawyers

Show Maryland Cities

Massachusetts Probate Lawyers

Show Massachusetts Cities

Michigan Probate Lawyers

Show Michigan Cities

Minnesota Probate Lawyers

Show Minnesota Cities

Mississippi Probate Lawyers

Show Mississippi Cities

Missouri Probate Lawyers

Show Missouri Cities

Montana Probate Lawyers

Show Montana Cities

Nebraska Probate Lawyers

Show Nebraska Cities

Nevada Probate Lawyers

Show Nevada Cities

New Hampshire Probate Lawyers

Show New Hampshire Cities

New Jersey Probate Lawyers

Show New Jersey Cities

New Mexico Probate Lawyers

Show New Mexico Cities

New York Probate Lawyers

Show New York Cities

North Carolina Probate Lawyers

Show North Carolina Cities

North Dakota Probate Lawyers

Show North Dakota Cities

Ohio Probate Lawyers

Show Ohio Cities

Oklahoma Probate Lawyers

Show Oklahoma Cities

Oregon Probate Lawyers

Show Oregon Cities

Pennsylvania Probate Lawyers

Show Pennsylvania Cities

Rhode Island Probate Lawyers

Show Rhode Island Cities

South Carolina Probate Lawyers

Show South Carolina Cities

South Dakota Probate Lawyers

Show South Dakota Cities

Tennessee Probate Lawyers

Show Tennessee Cities

Texas Probate Lawyers

Show Texas Cities

Utah Probate Lawyers

Show Utah Cities

Virginia Probate Lawyers

Show Virginia Cities

Vermont Probate Lawyers

Show Vermont Cities

Washington Probate Lawyers

Show Washington Cities

Wisconsin Probate Lawyers

Show Wisconsin Cities

West Virginia Probate Lawyers

Show West Virginia Cities

Wyoming Probate Lawyers

Show Wyoming Cities


Valid and Invalid Wills

In most states, all wills must go through the probate process, even if there is no serious question as to their validity. If the will's validity is not in question, the probate process is little more than a formality, and the process is relatively quick (lasting a few months).

However, if there are irregularities in the will, or if there is a strong indication that the will might be invalid for whatever reason (it is a forgery, the testator was not mentally competent when they wrote it, it was made under duress, etc.), a probate court will have to consider all of the available evidence to determine if the will is valid. In this case, the probate process can take a very long time, going for a year or more until everything is sorted out.

The best way to prevent this from happening, and to ensure that the probate process goes as smoothly as possible, is to have your will drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney, and to regularly update it to reflect any changes in your financial or family situation.


Find the Right Lawyer Now

Top Rated Lawyers

View attorney profiles and see how other LegalMatch users rate attorneys that may respond to your case.

Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Doug N.

Doug N.

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (14 users) *****

 

See Reviews
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Kenneth W.

Kenneth W.

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (9 users) ****

 

See Reviews
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Benjamin E.

Benjamin E.

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (4 users) *****

 

See Reviews
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Simon M.

Simon M.

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (5 users) ****

 

See Reviews

Need a Lawyer?

No obligation - Lawyers compete for your case. Choose your issue & get started now: