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If you have been able to accumulate assets during your life, you want to be sure that you have some control over what happens to that property when you die.  You want any property that you own at the time of your death to be turned over to a person selected by you prior to your death.  There are different ways of making sure that this happens. 

 

You may make a will that specifies who gets what and who is in charge of making sure your wishes are followed.  When you die, the person named by you takes your will to the probate court and asks the court to

1. establish that the will is valid, (admit the will to probate) and

2. Issue documents that grant the applicant authority to gather your assets and file an inventory of those assets with the court.  There are very specific rules that must be followed and the court will monitor the actions of the person handling the estate.

 

Once the inventory is approved, the person appointed by the court, (fiduciary) pays bills, distributes your property according to the directions in your will and accounts to the court.

 

Want to avoid probate?  There are a number of ways to do this..(more).