The Probate Process
At death, your will goes through probate. Probate simply means the process by which your last will is
determined to be your final dispositive statement and which confirms the appointment of the person or
institution you’ve named to administer your estate. The term probate is also used in the larger sense of
probating your estate. In this sense, probate means the process by which assets are gathered, applied to
pay debts, taxes and expenses of administration, and distributed to those designated as beneficiaries in the
will. The executor or personal representative named in the will is in charge of this process, and probate
provides an orderly method for administration of the estate. The executor is held accountable by the
beneficiaries (and sometimes is supervised formally by a probate court). The executor is entitled to a
reasonable fee or commission. Probate law generally encourages or provides for partial distribution
during the period of administration; assets may generally be distributed in-kind rather than sold during
this time. The tax laws generally focus the responsibility for death tax filings and payments on the
executor under a will.
JCB does not offer legal advice. You should consult your attorney regarding your specific situation.