PROBATE
PROBATE is often referred to as the legal proceedings or proceedings to transfer a decedent's
assets after his or her death.  In general, through probate a superior court judge oversees a
process that is often necessary to change the title of an asset from the name of the decedent,
to the name of the survivors or beneficiaries.  The need for Probate will often be discovered
when a successor attempts to sell a decedent's house, or change a name on a bank account.  
The survivor might be requested to provide Letters Testamentary, or Letters of Administration.  
These are terms of the trade that refer to empowering documents that give an Executor or
Administrator the power, under strict fiduciary duties, to take control of a decedent's asset, and
then take the necessary steps to convey that property to the rightful beneficiaries.  Attorneys
that practice in the field of Probate, assist the Executor or Administrator with the legal process
often referred to as the administration of the estate.

Briefly, the steps of administration might include the following:

    *  Filing the requisite fee,
    *  Drafting and Filing the Petition for Letters Testamentary or the Petition for Administration,
    *  Drafting and serving Notice of Hearing on various heirs and beneficiaries,
    *  Publishing Notice to Creditors,
    *  Serving Notice to Creditors,
    *  Drafting Orders,
    *  Drafting Letters Testamentary, or Letters of Administration,
    *  Marshaling the assets,
    *  Monitoring the Creditor period,
    *  Preparing the Inventory and Appraisal of the assets,
    *  Contacting the Probate Referee to appraise assets,
    *  Preparing and filing an Accounting in the Court required format,
    *  Preparing and filing the Petition for Distribution,
    *  Preparing the Order for Distribution,

This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, nor can it be used as a check list for the steps
necessary during Probate.  An attorney should be contacted to discuss the process in more
detail.  The process can be very cumbersome and often, even with the assistance of an
attorney, the duration can be more than one or even two years, depending on the size and
complexity of the estate and the time and dedication of the attorney and the executor or
administrator.  It should be noted that probate is not always necessary, depending on the
nature and title to the assets of the decedent.  A knowledgeable attorney can guide you through
an examination of the assets and a decision as to whether opening probate is the correct
course of action.