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What Is Supervised Probate



Probate administration is a detailed, time-intensive, costly process. Most Americans cringe when they hear the very term "probate" and would probably tell you that they seek to avoid it. Supervised probate, a sub-category of the overall probate administration process, is the most formal of the types of probate. As a result, supervised probate is also the most expensive type. When an estate is contested, an interested party requests supervision, or the competency of the executor of the estate is called into question by a party, then supervised probate is an appropriate remedy and response.

Who does the supervising?

The circuit court is usually the entity charged with the primary responsibility for granting approval of transactions made during the estate administration process. In most jurisdictions, the probate administration process is actually supervised by a judge. More specifically, a circuit court judge typically is the supervising party.

Accordingly, because the circuit court is a court of record where litigation practices like discovery are performed and filed written pleadings are required, legal fees and court costs can add up rapidly for parties and estates undergoing a supervised probate process. In some jurisdictions, the probate court is part of the lower district court, and a district court judge presides.

What does the supervising party do?

In performing that supervisory role, the judge assumes several distinct responsibilities throughout the duration of the probate administration process:

  • The judge presides over all probate proceedings;
  • The judge appoints the estate's personal representative;
  • The judge issues what are called letters of administration (documents that demonstrate the authority granted to the personal representative to act on behalf of the estate);
  • The judge conducts hearings, when needed;
  • The judge resolves questions, concerns and problems that surface during the estate administration process; and
  • The judge uses written orders to give directions to the parties during the estate administration process.
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