1) n. the process of proving a will is valid and thereafter administering the estate of a dead person according to the terms of the will. The first step is to file the purported will with the clerk of the appropriate court in the county where the deceased person lived, along with a petition to have the court approve the will and appoint the executor named in the will (or if none is available, then an administrator) with declarations of a person who had signed the will as a witness. If the court determines the will is valid, the court then "admits" the will to probate. 2) n. a general term for the entire process of administration of estates of dead persons, including those without wills, with court supervision. The means of "avoiding" probate exist, including creating trusts in which all possessions are handled by a trustee, making lifetime gifts, or putting all substantial property in joint tenancy with an automatic right of survivorship in the joint owner. Even if there is a will, probate may not be necessary if the estate is small with no real estate title to be transferred, or all of the estate is either jointly owned or community property. Reasons for avoiding probate are the fees set by statute and/or the court (depending on state laws) for attorneys, executors and administrators, the need to publish notices, court hearings, paperwork, the public nature of the proceedings, and delays while waiting for creditors to file claims even when the deceased owed no one. 3) v. to prove a will in court and proceed with administration of a deceased's estate under court supervision. 4) adj. reference to the appropriate court for handling estate matters, as in "probate court." (See: will, executor, administrator)
Applications for probate are made to the probate office in the jurisdiction with which the deceased has a close connection, not necessarily where the person died. Normally, only the executor of a will can apply for a grant of probate, and it is their duty to obtain probate in a timely manner. Executors can apply for probate themselves (which is often done to reduce legal fees) or be represented by a lawyer. With the application for probate, the applicant must also provide the original of the will, an official death certificate (not the one issued by a medical professional), a copy of the death notice and a statement of the known assets and liabilities of the deceased estate. The applicant may also be required to have published a notice in a major newspaper of an intention to make the application for probate.
If no formal probate proceeding is necessary, the court does not appoint an estate administrator. Instead, a close relative or friend serves as an informal estate representative. Normally, families and friends choose this person, and it is not uncommon for several people to share the responsibilities of paying debts, filing a final income tax return and distributing property to the people who are supposed to get it.
This affidavit is a document that can be used when someone dies without a will and the estate consists mostly of real property titled in the decedent’s name. Under Texas law, the affidavit becomes evidence about the property once it has been on file for five years in the county in which the decedent’s property is located. Its legal effect is that it creates a clean chain of title transfer to the decedent’s heirs.
However, many accounts, such as bank savings, CD accounts, and individual brokerage accounts, are unnecessarily probated every day. If you hold these accounts, they can be set up—or amended—to have a transfer on death (TOD) designation, which lets beneficiaries receive assets without going through the probate process. Contact your custodian or bank to set this up on your accounts.