Probate is the official proving of a will. Often people are scared by this process and do everything they can to avoid it. While there is no way to avoid it, there are ways to minimize the nature of the process.
Informal probate is an administrative proceeding and is processed by a Magistrate instead of a judge. Hearings are not required or allowed by the court. Informal probate can be a much quicker process if the petitioners meets the requirements of the informal process. While there are notice requirements that must be complied with, the informal petition can be acted upon as early as seven days after the death of the decedent. In order to take advantage of the informal probate process the petitioner must have the original will, death certificate, the location and identity of any heir or devisee of the decedent. The person to be appointed personal representative must have priority for appointment and there are no incapacitated or minor beneficiary or devisee.
If the estate is one that requires a formal probate, that hearing must be conducted by a judge. There are several reasons that a formal process may be required including a handwritten will or one that is merely a copy of the original, the terms of the will are unclear, there are minor heirs or devisees that need representation or the personal representative does not have priority of appointment.
If the requirements are met for the informal process, then you may be looking at a streamlined procedure. For more information on the informal or formal probate process, please contact Estate Planning Attorney Kristen Bonavita at 978-376-6746.