Basic Probate Law in the U.S.


When someone dies, the process of going to court to prove who is to acquire their property, or estate, is called probate.  The process includes appraisals of the property, the paying of debts and taxes, and distributing the property according to the deceased’s will (or state law, if the person left no will).  Without probate, legal acquisition of the property isn’t possible.


The two types of probate estates are testate and intestate.  When the person dies without a will, an intestate estate is the result.  In such a case, state law will determine who is to receive the deceased’s assets and who will be the executor.  Conflicts often occur in cases regarding the control and distribution of the property of a person who dies without leaving a will.


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