Generally speaking, probate is simply one small part of an estate administration.
Probate usually refers to the process by which someone gets formally appointed to administer a deceased person's estate.
If there is a Will, the probate process is used by the state where the deceased person resided and/or owned property to:
- Verify the validity of that Will,
- Identify all potential beneficiaries of the estate, and
- Appoint the person the deceased named in his or her Will to administer his or her estate (i.e. the "Executor" or "Personal Representative").
If there is not a Will, an estate still must be administered. If no Will, state law determines “who gets what,” and who is responsible for administering the estate. Here, the probate process is used to:
- Identify all of the available people who benefit under the laws of that state, and
- Appoint the person that is legally entitled to administer the estate (the "Administrator").
Estate administration is the act of closing out, wrapping up, accounting for, and distributing everything a deceased person owned to the intended beneficiaries. Everything a deceased person “owned” refers to his/her estate.
Though probate is a term people usually deem as the hardest part of an estate administration, in most states, it is quite the opposite. It is the first step in the process of administering an estate, and is used to merely give someone the authority to do all of the actual tedious, arduous and difficult administrative work that closing out an estate involves.
In fact, many assets that grieving families spend hundreds of precious hours working on are assets that are not even subject to probate or part of the probate process at all. Many estates are mostly made up of assets that pass to a named beneficiary outside of the probate process such as retirement accounts, pensions, social security, life insurance, bank accounts, etc. These assets are even referred to by estate lawyers as “nonprobate assets,” and many attorneys in Florida and a handful of other estates will encourage you to make all of the things you own into non-probate assets so you can avoid probate. They will often use tools like Pour-Over Wills, Revocable Living Trusts and Ladybird deeds to accomplish this so that you do not have to go through the probate process.
However, though people can avoid probate by naming a beneficiary upon death for each asset, it still does not make the process of changing these accounts over and getting them to that beneficiary any easier. Trustate works to help families administer these types of assets as well.
How Trustate Can Help:
Regardless of whether the estate administration you are dealing with requires probate, Trustate can help administer it, no matter how far along or early you are in the process. We at Trustate are well-versed in administering probate assets, as well as non-probate assets.