PROBATE refers to the handling of the estate of a deceased person. There are two main types of probate: Summary administration and Full administration. Summary administration is a simple and less expensive manner to probate an estate so long as the estate is valued at $75,000.00 or less. Both versions begin with a petition for administration and end with an order closing the estate and distributing the assets. Full administration is more complicated and requires many additional steps like publishing a notice to creditors and notice of administration. The estate is probated pursuant to the terms of a will, if one exits, or pursuant to the statute on intestate succession. All estates are probated according to the rules of probate and statute.

Probate can be avoided entirely if the deceased created a living trust. Probate can also be avoided by establishing beneficiaries with financial institutions and holding real property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.

GUARDIANSHIPS are most often used when someone is not competent to handle their own affairs. There are two types of guardianships, one for the person and one for the property of that person. Most frequently guardianships are of the property and give the guardian complete control of the ward’s property and finances. A guardianship of the person usually occurs when a person is a minor but it also can be established where it is determined that the person is no longer able to care for themselves. Both begin with a petition for guardianship by an interested person.