What Is Probate?

Posted by April Picozzi | Jan 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

Probate refers to the legal process that is responsible for distributing the estate of a deceased person to their heirs and designated beneficiaries. During probate, any debts left will be paid off. Typically, probate property will be distributed according to the deceased's will. If one does not exist, however, the estate will be divided according to state law.


There are several basic steps to the probate process:

  • Someone is appointed to administer the estate. If there is a will, this person will typically be named in the will and is called the executor. If there is no executor named, the probate court will appoint someone to handle the case.
  • If there is a will, it must be proven valid in court. The will must follow state regulations for signatures, witnesses, and notaries. If the will is found to not be valid in court, state law will govern the division of the estate.
  • The deceased's property is identified and cataloged. Most assets are unable to be sold or distributed until the probate process is complete.
  • The deceased's properties are appraised.
  • Any remaining debts or taxes owed are paid from the estate's assets.
  • The remaining assets are distributed according to the will or state law.


The length of the probate process can vary greatly, depending on the extent of the estate, how quickly assets are inventories, the court's schedule, and whether or not the will is valid or is challenged. On average, it takes 6 to 9 months to complete the probate process. If the will is disputed, cannot be found, or there are other difficulties, the probate process can take years.


The probate process can be complex and lengthy, but an experienced lawyer can help to speed the process. At Inman & Tourgee, we have more than 125 years of collective legal experience to call upon. Let our Rhode Island probate attorneys guide you through your probate case with personalized attention and results-driven legal solutions.

Contact our offices by calling (401) 823-9200 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

About the Author

April Picozzi

PUBLIC ADJUSTER / OPERATIONS & FINANCE MANAGER April M. Picozzi joined the firm in 2013 as a licensed Independent Adjuster and legal assistant to Mark D. Tourgee, Esq. She handles all aspects of personal injury claims including client intake, maintaining client files, negotiating settlements and assi...


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