Probate is a legal process that administers the distribution of a deceased person’s assets. The process is overseen by a probate court, which has the legal authority to decide matters related to wills and estates.
During probate, the court will determine whether the will is valid. It will also appoint an executor, locate and value assets, and pay the decedent’s debts out of the estate. The residue will then be distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs.
Probate laws vary from state to state. For instance, in California, estates under a certain amount can be passed to heirs via a simplified process. If the property is worth less than $20,000, the heirs can ask the court to “set aside” the estate. This involves filling out a form.
If the estate is worth $166,250 or less, the heirs can make a declaration asking for the estate to be distributed to them. This is somewhat more complex than the process for a smaller estate, but it is simpler than the full probate process.