Probate is a court process in which the property of the deceased is distributed. Probate is needed when a person dies owning property solely in their name or jointly with others.
The court appoints a personal representative, and issues to the personal representative “letters of authority”. Typically, the personal representative is the person(s) that you appointed in your Last Will and Testament. The letters of authority identify who the personal representative is so that they can administer the estate.
Some of the duties of estate administration are: paying debts and expenses, locating beneficiaries, safeguarding property, completing tax returns, distributing property to the beneficiaries, and providing a final accounting of the estate.
Probate can be costly. Some of the fees associated with probate are attorney fees, estate inventory fees, court fees, cost of maintaining the estate, appraisal fees, additional income taxes, and tax return preparation fees.