When a person passes away, there is a chance that his or her estate will have to go through the probate process. There are three primary ways that this can be avoided: gifts, revocable trusts and joint ownership with the right of survivorship. Without these, there is a good chance that the case will need to go through probate.
If you recently lost a loved one and realize that you will have to face the probate process, don't fret. The process is here as protection for all the parties involved. It gives people who think that their loved one was unjustly influenced by someone during the creation of the estate plan a chance to take legal action.
The property that is part of the estate will go through the probate process and be transferred to the appropriate party during it. When everything is set how it should be, the probate case can be closed.
As part of the probate process, someone will be named to handle the estate. If there is a will, this person is usually named in it. If there isn't, the court will name one. The name for this person varies between a personal representative, an administrator or an executor. This person is responsible for paying debts of the estate, finding heirs and locating assets. They don't have to deal with anything that has a payable on death designation since those aren't governed by the probate process.
The first time a person has to handle probate matters, it can be difficult. Working with someone who is familiar with the process might help to make things a bit less stressful.
Source: FindLaw, "The Probate Basics," accessed May 23, 2018