Informal Probate

Informal probate refers to a simplified type of Probate that is designed to make the process easier, faster, and cheaper. This approach is typically used when a deceased person's Estate is relatively small and uncomplicated.

Unlike formal probate, which involves court hearings and extensive paperwork, this type of informal probate is typically handled through written correspondence between the executor and Probate Court.

Informal probate is not a federal law; instead, it serves as a model that individual states can choose to adopt in whole or in part. States have the authority to customize their probate laws, so the extent to which informal probate is adopted and incorporated into a state's legal system can vary.

As of January 2022, the following states have adopted some version of informal probate: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

It's important to consult with an Estate Attorney or Probate Attorney to identify the specific probate laws of the state in which you are dealing as they may differ from the provisions of the Uniform Probate Code.

Some key aspects and provisions typically covered by the Uniform Probate Code include:

Wills and Intestacy: Establishes rules for creating and executing Wills, as well as the distribution of assets when a person dies without a valid will (Intestacy).

Estate Administration: It outlines procedures for the administration of estates, including the appointment of personal representatives (executors or administrators) to handle estate matters.

Trusts: Includes provisions related to Trusts, both Testamentary Trusts (established in a will) and Living Trusts (established during a person's lifetime).

Guardianship and Conservatorship: It addresses matters related to Guardianship and Conservatorship for incapacitated adults and minors, including the appointment of Guardians and the management of their affairs.

Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA): Some states have adopted this component of informal probate to provide a legal framework for accessing digital assets and electronic communications of a deceased or incapacitated person.

Elective Share: Includes provisions regarding the elective share, which is a surviving spouse's right to claim a portion of the deceased spouse's estate, even if the will attempts to disinherit them.

Non-Probate Transfers: It covers rules related to non-probate transfers, such as beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and Payable-on-Death (POD) accounts.

Simplicity and Uniformity: Informal probate aims to simplify and standardize probate procedures to make them more efficient, consistent, and accessible across states.

Also known as Uniform Probate Code.