In a nutshell, the term probate refers to the legal process of administering your property upon your death. It also refers to the process through which concerned parties resolve claims against your estate. If you die with a will, then testamentary probate proceedings follow. Dying without a will is not a good thing, it leaves your kin going through a lot of inheritance challenges.
If you leave a will behind, then basically, there would not be much to take through probate. An appointed estate executor will administer the estate and undertake distribution of the assets and obligations of the estates following your will.
Sometimes your kin may seek to challenge your will. In such cases, a probate court will decide whether their claim is valid or not. Depending on its findings, the court can use the probate will to determine who inherits what in your estate.
Therefore, probate focuses on people who die without leaving a will that should guide on property distribution. The proceedings of probate are similar to those of a bankruptcy case. The court will seek to establish priorities and also extinguish inferior and untimely claims against your estate for property protection purposes.
Once the court makes a ruling, your spouse will get the lion’s share of your estate. Your children will follow and then other close family members depending on your relationship with them, something the courts will determine.
Some states have adopted a Uniform Probate Code. The code deals with different state and probate laws. It seeks to make the probate process more uniform in various jurisdictions.