Probate is a Court supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person, paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. If the decedent dies with a valid Will the decedent is dying “testate”. If the decedent dies without a valid Will the decedent is dying “intestate”.
The Court determines if the Will is valid, heirs are determined, debts are paid, and assets are distributed. The process takes a considerable amount of time (usually about six (6) months when you factor creditor notice) and expends a considerable amount of money for costs and attorney fees. That does not mean that the beneficiaries cannot get a partial distribution during the process.
The fact that you have a Will does not eliminate the requirement to go through the probate process. That process is required when a decedent’s assets are owned solely in the decedent’s name. The best method to avoid probate is to create a revocable living trust and then to transfer all your assets, other than qualified accounts, into the trust.
Anyone in possession of a decedent’s Will must file that Will in the local circuit’s court within ten (10) days of learning of the decedent’s death.