When someone is deceased, probate is the court-supervised process of gathering that person’s assets, paying taxes and distributing the remainder of the estate to heirs. It’s important to understand the probate process.
The answer is no. Many estates can avoid regular probate by qualifying as “small estates” under state law; even if they have valuable assets. In these cases, heirs may use a simplified probate procedure. Sometimes they can even transfer property without ever setting foot in a courtroom.
There are conditions imposed by some states as to who can use summary probate. For example, in some cases, the surviving spouse must inherit everything or there must be no will. If there are several heirs, all the heirs must agree on how to divide property.
In the event an estate goes to probate, someone must be appointed executor or personal representative. Different terms are used by different states. If there’s no will, in some states your title will be "administrator."
Send formal legal notice to beneficiaries named in the will and if there is no formal will, to heirs under state law.
Send notices to known creditors.
Publish a legal notice in a local newspaper to alert other creditors.
Prove that a will (if it exists) is valid.
What if the deceased person owned real estate in more than one county in the same state? Good news: it can all be handled in one probate. As long as there’s no crossing of state lines, there’s no need to conduct a separate probate proceeding in more than one county.
Once the creditors claim period has passed, debts are paid, tax returns are filed, and disputes settled, remaining property may be distributed to the beneficiaries and the estate may be closed.