The Basics of Probate

Authored By: Alaska Legal Services - Anchorage LSC Funded

The Basics of Probate: Introduction to Probate

Introduction to Probate

Authored By: Alaska Legal Services - Anchorage LSC Funded
Basics of Probate Basics of Probate

Basics of Probate

Basics of Probate


In this presentation, we’ll explore what happens with a person's property after death.  "Probate" is used to describe the legal process by which a deceased person’s affairs are settled and his property distributed to those who are entitled to receive it.

This includes tax authorities, immediate family entitled to special protections, creditors, people named in a Will if there is a Will (called devisees or beneficiaries), heirs if there is no Will, and perhaps the State of Alaska if there is no one else. The primary goal of probate process is to protect the rights of these various interests.

Although probate has a reputation for being complicated, time-consuming, and expensive, it doesn’t have to be that way - especially in Alaska. In this state, it can be a relatively simple and methodical process compared to many other areas of the law.

In fact, many estates can be settled without any court involvement at all. Estates valued at less than $50,000, plus $100,000 worth of motor vehicles, can often avoid the probate process in court, provided the estate contains no real property (land or a home).

The presentations in this first section include:

  • The role of a personal representative of an estate and who has priority to serve;
  • An overview of the special protections for family members, called exemptions or allowances;
  • A review of the intestacy rules, which describe how an estate should be divided when there is no Will;
  • Alternatives to consider when deciding whether "to probate or not to probate."
  • Matters of immediate concern following the death of an individual, such as getting minor children to guardians, disposition of the decedent's body, and gaining control of assets.

After reviewing the above information, the second lesson will discussthe actual probate process, such as: filing a probate case, the appointment of a Personal Representative (PR); the receipt and payment of creditors' claims; deciding "who takes" among the beneficiaries; the distribution of the assets; and the closing of the estate.

Finally, the special probate process involving federal administrative judges which is triggered when the estate includes Native Allotment or other restricted property are briefly discussed.