Probate is a formal legal process by which ownership of the property of a person who has died is passed to their heirs. It may involve the distribution under the provisions of a will, or, if the decedent died without a will, or, if the decedent died without a will, “intestate” proceedings where the law determines the beneficiaries. The individual appointed by the court to manage the estate during the probate is usually known either as an “executor of the will” or an “administrator of the estate.” During the estate’s administrative phase, the decedent’s property will be gathered by the administrator, inventoried, and appraised. Property will be maintained and invested as needed, or sold, and debts will be settled. Required legal notices will be given and beneficiaries and heirs determined. Tax returns will be filed as needed, and any taxes due will be paid. Disputes, if any, will be resolved. Ultimately, at the end of the probate process, the property is passed on to decedent’s heirs free from any claims of third parties or creditors.
American Society of Appraisers, San Diego Chapter
September 19, 2006