Probate or Estate Administrion
a summary on the probate or administration process
What is the difference between a probate and an administration?The term "probate" more specifically refers to the probate of a Will in Court, in order to administer a deceased person's estate according to his or her wishes. Where there is no Will, the estate must still be administered, but it is technically not a probate, but rather an "administration".
Is probate more simple than an administration?It is much less of a hassle to administer an estate under a Will, and your fiduciary (termed an "Executor" under a Will) has broad powers. Without a Will, the person who petitions the court to administer your estate (the "Administrator") will often have to post bond, file inventories and appraisals with the court, and formally petition the court to sell assets. A person who dies with a valid Will is termed to be "testate". A person who dies without a valid Will is termed to be "intestate". A testate estate is "probated"; an intestate estate is "administered".
So if I have a Will, the person I name can handle my estate. What if they don't 'probate' the Will?It is very important to note that your Executor or Administrator has no power to act on behalf of your estate until the Will has been probated in Court or the Administration granted by the Court. Simply being named in the Will is not what gives your Executor power to act. It is the Court proceeding which accomplishes that.
What about assets that are Pay on Death or have a beneficiary designation? What can my Executor do with those?Assets with beneficiary designations (such as life insurance or IRAs) and accounts that list a co-owner (bank accounts, etc), will generally pass outside of the probate or administration process. They are not 'probate' assets.