BACKNEXT

What is probate?

Probate is a fancy term for the legal process that occurs after a person dies. The probate court system must first validate that the will is authentic, and then proceed to distribute the estate among the heirs. When a person leaves no will, the probate court must decide, according to the laws of the state, who gets what.

Probate is an expensive process and can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on how complicated the estate is. If you want to spare your heirs the hassle of probate, there are a few ways to avoid the process, such as a revocable living trust.

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.