What is Probate?  Why Do I Need to Worry About it?

by Matthew Carrucci — Feb 6, 2024

“Probate” is the process of documenting a person’s death, taking care of their debts, and making a record of who receives their property.  And it’s not as simple as some people think.  There are plenty of mistakes that can be made along the way, and those mistakes might reduce the money or property that should go to you and your family.

The Probate process typically takes 8-12 months to complete.  There are three stages: 

First, you have to get authority to manage your loved one’s affairs. This involves filing a request for that authority, along with a number of other documents. If there is a Will, it must be “proven” – meaning you must verify that it meets all of the legal requirements to be valid and enforceable.

Next, it’s your responsibility to gather your loved one’s property, and decide which debts and bills to pay. Careful! Some creditors must be paid, but some should not be paid. Some of the rules here are confusing, and it can be hard to know the difference. This is one place where money that should go to your family goes somewhere else instead.

Finally, you are required to report everything you’ve done to the Register of Wills, who will review your documents and the information you provide.  If everything is in order, they will close the file and the Probate process is complete. Proceed with caution again! There will be fees due, but the law gives you ways to lower those fees – make sure you give less money to the government and more to your family!