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For many people, the word “Probate” creates an uneasy feeling. Much of this feeling has to do with the possibility of taxes being owed. Estate taxes are not an issue in the majority of estates. A simple explanation of the purpose and process should easy one’s concerns.

What is Probate?

Probate is the ending of one’s “legal” life. Each individual has a “physical” life, where he or she eats, sleeps and pursues happiness. Every person also has a “legal” life where he or she makes car payments, owns property and works. When an individual passes away, their physical life is over at the moment of their passing yet their legal life continues until it is closed. For example, bills and bank statements may continue to arrive for the deceased. These documents will not stop coming until the creditor or other business entity is officially informed of the death of the individual. Then, debt must be paid or disputed or the account must be closed. Probate is the process by which an individuals’ “legal” life is closed.