First of all, what is probate? It is a term that means “the official proving of the will.” It is the process that is used to administer the last will and testament or estate of a descendent.
Executor: Is the person appointed by a testator to be the agent of the estate. This person is responsible for carrying out the terms of the will.
Administrator: A person legally appointed to manage and dispose of the estate of an intestate. This person is responsible for administering the property according to intestate laws.
Personal Representative: More generalized term to identify the person responsible for administering the estate either under the terms of the will or the laws on intestacy. This is the most common role for probate.
Testate Estate: A person who has passed away with a valid will.
Intestate Estate: A person who has passed without a valid will.
After reviewing the decedent’s estate and it is required to go through the probate process, then the case where the court filings are associated are made public record. This does not sit well with many families because they might feel like their families dirty laundry will be aired out for everyone to see. This is unlikely because in most cases there is not controversy within the family. Also, it is not uncommon to file an inventory of assets to be waived by the court based upon the terms of the will or the agreement that all parties involved agreed upon.
One of the most confusing parts about the probate process is dealing with and indentifying assets that are either under the control of the personal representative or the court. The easiest way to know which of the decedents assets are “probate assets” or not is to first identify which assets are solely in the name of the descendent. If an asset is not claimed under the deceased name then they become “probate assets” because they did not automatically pass to someone else when the descendent died.
The administration of an estate is different in each county. Typically it can take four to six weeks, but in some cases it can take up to four months. Things that affect how long the process takes are facts of the county you live in, or the type of judge that is assigned to your case.