When a person passes on, his or her estate may need to go through “Probate”, which is the process of collecting the decedent's assets, liquidating liabilities, paying necessary taxes, and ultimately distributing property to heirs. Dealing with the death of a loved one and the legal obstacles to follow can be extremely stressful, if not overwhelming, without the help of a legal professional.
The complexity of the probate process is largely affected by whether the decedent had the proper estate planning documents in place. For example, if the decedent leaves a valid will directing how his or her property should be distributed after death, appointing a personal representative, trustee, or guardian of any minor children, the extent of the probate court’s involvement and supervision can be drastically reduced.
Probate procedures are governed by state law and the Uniform Probate Code. The Uniform Probate Code, which simplifies the probate process, has been adopted in its entirety by 16 states (including both North Dakota and Minnesota).