Probate Frequently Asked Questions

Probate Definitions and General Information

  • What is probate?
  • How does the probate process work?
  • How long does probate usually take to complete?
  • Why is probate actually required?
  • How much does probate cost?
  • If there is a really small estate, is probate still necessary?
  • What goes on in the probate of an uncontested will?
  • Where is probate handled?
  • Can I handle probate without a lawyer?

Definition and Duties of the Personal Representative / Executor / Executrix

  • Who is legally responsible for handling the probate process?
  • Can there be more than one designated personal representative?
  • Is it necessary for the personal representative to live in the decedent's state?
  • What are the main duties of a personal representative?
  • If I am named as the personal repreentative, do I have to accept the job?
  • Are personal representatives usually paid for their work?
  • What happens if the personal representative fails to perform his or her duty?

Contested Wills

  • What if someone objects to the will?
  • What is the basis for a will contest?
  • How can a will be "contested?"
  • How can I find out if there was a will?
  • How can I avoid probate of my estate?

Property Issues

  • What happens when the person who dies owned land in multiple states?
  • Is it necessary for all of the decedent's property to go through probate?

Payments and Taxes

  • How are creditors against the estate handled?
  • Do beneficiaries have to pay creditors out of their own pocket if the estate is insolvent?
  • How are taxes handled in probate?

Provisions for Children / Survivors

  • Are provisions for the care and guardianship of minor children usually provided for in a will?
  • How does a "joint tenancy" affect a will?
  • Are there any specific rules about how property can be disposed of?

Questions About Wills

  • What are the actual requirements for a will to be valid?
  • After a will is created, can it be modified?
  • Should a will provide a separate list that details and bequeaths specific personal property?
  • When should I make a will?
  • What if there is no will?
  • What happens if a person dies without leaving a will?