Basic Probate Terms
A will states the desire of the maker with respect to the final disposition of his or her assets following his or her death. The process by which this is accomplished is called Probate. Whether you have a will or not, your estate must be probated. Probate is simply the administration of your estate by a court according to the terms of your will, or if you have no will, by the State’s intestate succession laws. In very basic terms the probate process can be summarized as follows:
- All of your assets are assembled.
- All of your debts are assembled.
- The debts will be paid from the assets of the estate.
- The costs of administration are paid. These costs include attorney's fees and the executor's commission. If there is not enough cash on hand to pay these costs, estate assets will be sold to pay them. Then, the estate taxes are paid.
Finally, what ever is left over after all the debts, costs and taxes are paid is distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will or to the heirs according to the laws of intestate succession.