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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

May 5, 2005

probate proves hard to find online

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 4:08 pm

Thanks to HALT, I’ve got a great suggestion for estate lawyers who want a

better Law Day in 2006: help put together a probate court website as good as

the one available from the Vermont Probate Courts.  Or, make one even better.


HALT recently performed a survey of online probate resounces available from each

State.  (HALT eJournal, “States Provide Few Probate Resources Online,” by Todd

Chatman, May 5, 2005, free subscription available in the right SideBar).  The results

show most states provide no useful online information about probate (the legal

process by which you prove a will is valid and settle an estate).  


someone else’s affair
you think…
lanterns for the dead




HALT started the survey with the following question:  “If you need to probate an estate

in any U.S. state, can you find resources online to help you complete the process without

a lawyer?”   Here are some of the findings:

tiny check “[A] dozen states (Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska,

Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee,

and West Virginia) offer no information whatsoever, while the vast majority

offer little more than a basic definition of probate, leaving consumers with

little choice but to hire an attorney and pay expensive legal fees for what is

usually a simple and routine procedure.”


tiny check Vermont scored highest because “consumers can find a wealth of information

about probate, including a step-by-step guide to administering and settling an

estate, links to local probate courts, links to necessary forms and instructions

for using them, and a complete explanation of Vermont’s special rules for

expedited small estate administration.”


tiny check “[T]hree other states (Maryland, New Hampshire, Connecticut) and the

District of Columbia also provide useful information.”


The eJournal article ends with an important message:  “Probate is not the complex,

intimidating process many people believe it to be. For years HALT has encouraged

states to simplify their probate process- especially for small estate administration.

Simplifying procedures and providing assistance to nonlawyers would make probate

more ‘user-friendly’ and help more people avoid unnecessary legal costs. We applaud

Vermont’s steps in this direction and urge all states to follow its lead.”  Amen!

  • Find more info on Estate Planning and Probate from HALT here.



deutzia blossoms–
the children play


“Get ready, get ready
for death!”
cherry blossoms



timing his death
extremely well…
the Buddha



        translated by David G. Lanoue


1 Comment

  1. HALT discusses probate at shlep today (Nov. 8, 2006): probate: the first legal self-help topic

    Comment by David Giacalone — November 8, 2006 @ 10:35 am

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