Probate Court & Legal Procedure
When an individual dies owning property in his or her name,
that property generally must go through probate. Probate is a legal procedure
that establishes ownership of property in others. The probate system is
designed to ensure the validity of a will, to give notice to all possible
claimants of property and to resolve ownership disputes and rights. Probate
courts also distribute property not covered by a will (intestate estates)
according to legal defaults. Some property does not require probate to
change hands: joint tenancy property and contractual arrangements such
as insurance policies and retirement accounts generally go directly to
the surviving joint tenant or named beneficiary without probate oversight.
Probate also is not required for assets held in trust.
Establishing a Valid Will
The probate court first establishes whether the deceased
left a valid will. If so, the probate process guides the division of property
in accordance with the will's provisions. If the estate is intestate or
if a will is found to be invalid, the probate division applies state laws
to divide up the estate. The probate court signs off on the final accounting
of the distribution, thereby finalizing the transfers of ownership.
At Sherrets Law Offices, our attorneys have the experience
necessary to guide you through the probate process in the most professional
and cost effective manner. Contact us today
and schedule an appointment to learn more.