Understanding the Probate Process


Two United States code service law books sitting on a table with a gavel on top of them, in a library with a service member in the background pulling books off a shelf

When a loved one dies, you may go through a court proceeding called "probate." Probate is the legal process by which a person's final debts are settled and legal title to property is formally passed from the decedent to his or her beneficiaries and heirs. Regardless of whether the decedent had a will or trust, the basic steps of probate must be completed. Since the probate process can be a little overwhelming, it helps to remember the four steps: 1) the hearing, 2) collection and inventory of assets, 3) bills, taxes, expenses and creditors, and 4) formal transfer of remaining estate property.

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