Wills and Probate

For property to be passed on at death, a person’s will must be “probated”, meaning it must go through a legal process to establish the validity of the will.  Historically, the probate process was expensive and drawn-out.  While this perception continues to live on, many states now have a much more streamlined probate process.

Advantages of the probate process:

  1. The probate process provides a ready legal forum in which to test the will’s validity.
  2. If the decedent died with difficult creditor issues, probate offers a clearly defined process for addressing them.

When people think of what happens to their property at death, they usually think of wills and probate.  However, with the rise in use of revocable living trusts and the increase in value of retirement plans and life insurance, going through the probate process is not only optional, it sometimes doesn’t happen even when the decedent wants it to.