The probate process takes place when courts supervise the gathering of a deceased individual's assets and subsequent distribution of those properties to inheritors and creditors. Although the deceased's will may have named an executor for the estate, the manner in which the executor proceeds will depend on whether the state holding jurisdiction is a Uniform Probate Code, or UPC, state. In a UPC state, the process is a relatively informal one with no court hearing required, provided that there are no problems arising from the deceased's creditors or inheritors.
Although most of the non-UPC states have incorporated parts of the UPC into their procedures, each state's probate laws outline different methods of filing and preparing various types of documents. The executor may, for example, be required to post a bond and submit to the court a list of the deceased's creditors that have been either approved or disapproved for payment.
Regardless of whether the state holding jurisdiction over the deceased's will is a UPC state, the probate process can become a challenging experience for the estate's executor if the will or portions of it are contested by the deceased's heirs, as noted by Daryl Binkley, an attorney practicing law in the non-UPC state of California. Sibling rivalries and multiple marriages without prenuptial agreements are two of the causes of probate litigation that can place the final outcome solely in the hands of the courts, and possibly after the estate has incurred considerable legal fees. Sophisticated estate planning and the formation of various types of trusts represent a better option for those individuals who are concerned over what unexpected issues might arise in the future, as advised by Houston attorney Karen S. Gerstner in an article published in an American Bar Association newsletter.