When a person passes away, their estate must be validated and executed. This process is referred to as probate. Assets must be transferred to beneficiaries and creditors. Debt must be handled as well. If there’s a will, it must be legally established as valid and its terms must be carried out by an executor, the person named in the will to handle the estate. The executor may need to have certain items appraised and may need to sell property to pay off creditors. He or she will be responsible for seeing that all the terms of the will are carried out. Probate may take anywhere from a few months to a year. It may be relatively straightforward or may involve complex claims or a family member who contests the validity of the will. In cases where the deceased did not leave a will or did not name an executor in the will, this responsibility may fall on the shoulders of the closest relative or the person who stands to inherit the bulk of the estate. There are several phases to the probate process, and the manner in which it’s carried out will vary depending on the state and the particular situation. If you’re interested in learning more about these important proceedings, we welcome you to review the information on this website or to use our free directory to find an attorney in your area.