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What is Probate?
   Probate is the process through which the assets which belong to a decedent are transferred to the beneficiaries of the estate, either pursuant to a will or pursuant to the law of intestate succession.  (The law of intestate succession determines to whom your estate passes if you die without a will.  Usually it passes to immediate family members.).  The word “probate” comes from a Latin word meaning to “prove”.  In the old days, it was necessary to prove to the court that the will was valid.  In modern times, there typically very little court involvement.

In D.C., the court appoints the personal representative and then requires the personal representative to prove that he or she published notice of their appointment and notified those named in the will and immediate family members of his or her appointment via certified mail.  The rest of the probate process is typically completed without further court supervision.

In Maryland, inventories and accountings still have to be filed with the court.