Probate 101: Informal Probate

Posted by Gregory Singleton | Feb 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

Informal probate is the probate procedure that does not involve the Court. It is for estates that do not require Court intervention or supervision. There should be no legal disputes, no complex administrative requirements, or any real uncertainties.

What Estates Qualify for Informal Probate?

The County Registrar is the gatekeeper for informal probate. If the probate proceeds informally, they will be the ones approving distribution of the estate. If the County Registrar rejects the case for informal probate, then it will need to proceed formally. This means the probate will have Court supervision. The County Registrar can reject a petition for informal probate for almost any reason at all, but some of the most common reasons are:

Issues with Devisees or Heirs:

  • Distribution will be made to a minor.
  • The identity of a devisee or heir is uncertain.
  • A person who would be expected to be a devisee has been disinherited.
  • There is a lack of heirs.
  • Survivorship requirements are too long (e.g., the will requires a devisee to live more than four months after the decedent's death).
  • An heir or devisee killed the decedent.

Issues with a Will:

  • Only a copy of the will is available because the original will is missing or destroyed.
  • There are problems with the formalities of execution of the will.
  • Questions of capacity or undue influence exist.
  • There is no date on the will.
  • The will is ambiguous.
  • The will is incomplete, e., it lacks certain clauses and distributions.
  • The will attempts to distribute more than is in the estate.
  • A personal representative is not nominated and the heirs disagree who it should be.

Other Issues:

  • Real estate distributed in the will is not going to be sold during the administration of the estate
  • The estate is insolvent.

Procedure for an Informal Probate

The informal probate begins with an application and other filings being filed with the court. A copy of the will is filed with the Court. After that there is an informal meeting with the County Registrar to review the application. Then notices are mailed and published in a local legal newspaper. After that, the Registrar issues the Letters of Administration which allows the Personal Representative to commence with the probate.

From there, the probate proceeds basically as normal. An inventory is taken, claims are received and paid, and distributions are made from the estate.


Probate, even informal probate, can be a complicated process. There are numerous hoops to jump through. However, if you are able to proceed informally with a probate, you may save yourself some time and money. If you have questions about informal probate, please feel free to call Signature Law for a free consultation.

About the Author

Gregory Singleton

Trusted Legal Advisor Gregory Singleton is a skilled attorney, experienced in both litigation and transactional work. He has tried multi-million-dollar cases and has negotiated multi-billion dollar contracts. With Signature Law, his goal is to make the law accessible to you, your families, and y...


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