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Law Lingo: Probate

Welcome to Law Lingo: a monthly blog series brought to you by The Brown Law Firm, LLC that explains estate planning terminologies in simple terms. This month we will explain probate.

It is rare for the word probate to be considered in high regard. But in reality, probate is a good thing: it is in place to carry out a deceased person’s last wishes and protect their loved ones.

To fully appreciate probate, you must understand that it is the court’s method of ensuring that all beneficiaries or surviving family members receive the proper assets from the deceased person’s estate. This process is also used if a person passes away intestate – meaning without leaving a will behind. Probate is another layer of protection for beneficiaries to receive their inheritance.

Sadly, probate gets a bad reputation because it can be very time-consuming and very expensive – although not all probate falls into those categories. If there are no challenges to the will or how the estate is divided, then the probate process can be quite quick. But when people start demanding inclusion in the will or want a larger portion of the estate, it can take months or even years of litigation to eventually settle the estate.

Every state has its own laws surrounding probate, but in general the probate process is done to authenticate the last will and testament (if one exists) and ensure that all loose ends are tied up. If an executor is not specifically named in the will, the probate courts will assign this individual to handle details such as:

  • Locate all of the assets
  • Determine the value of the estate
  • Notify creditors of the person’s passing
  • Pay all outstanding debts owed by the deceased
  • Ensure all tax returns are prepared and filed
  • Distribute the estate to the appropriate beneficiaries

Still confused by probate or any other legal terms? Interested in talking to a probate specialist in Colorado? The Denver estate administration lawyers at The Brown Law Firm, LLC are here to help. Even if you just want to ask questions to find out if we are the right fit for you, contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to meet with our experts.