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State Laws: Estates & Probate

A deceased person's property (known as their "estate") is distributed in one of two ways. If a last will and testament exists, the estate will be divided accordingly. However, a decedent without a will is said to have died "intestate," and their estate will be distributed according to state laws of intestate succession.

Whether they leave behind a will or die intestate, the court-supervised process of distributing a decedent's property is known generally as "probate," which also refers more narrowly to the process of validating a will. The probate process is carried out by a personal representative nominated in a will or appointed by a probate court.

Though federal law sometimes comes into play (e.g., federal estate taxes), most aspects of estate planning and probate are governed by state law. Each state compiles its governing laws in "Estate Codes," "Probate Codes," etc. These laws cover a wide range of topics, from intestacy and the formation of valid wills to estate administration and the fiduciary duty of personal representatives.

The table below provides links to estate and probate laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each state name also links to Findlaw's state-specific estate planning pages where you can find answers to common questions for your jurisdiction.

[Note: The Uniform Probate Code was developed by the Uniform Law Commission to encourage consistency in estate and probate laws across the country. It has been adopted, in whole or in part, by 18 states.]

Alabama

Alabama Code, Title 43. Wills and Decedents' Estates

Alaska

Alaska Statutes, Title 13. Decedents' Estates, Guardianships, Transfers, Trusts, and Health Care Decisions

Arizona

Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 14. Trusts, Estates and Protective Proceedings

Arkansas

Arkansas Code, Title 28. Wills, Estates, and Fiduciary Relationships

California

California Code, Probate Code - PROB

Colorado

Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 15. Probate, Trusts, and Fiduciaries

Connecticut

Connecticut General Statutes, Title 45A. Probate Courts and Procedure

Delaware

Delaware Code Title, 12. Decedents' Estates and Fiduciary Relations

District of Columbia

District of Columbia Code, Division III. Decedents' Estates and Fiduciary Relations

Florida

Florida Statutes, Title XLII. Estates and Trusts

Georgia

Georgia Code, Title 53. Wills, Trusts, and Administration of Estates

Hawaii

Hawaii Revised Statutes, Division 3. Property; Family

  • Title 29. Decedents' Estates
  • Title 30A. Uniform Probate Code

Idaho

Idaho Statutes

Illinois

Illinois Compiled Statutes

Indiana

Indiana Code

Iowa

Iowa Code Title, XV. Judicial Branch and Judicial Procedures, Subtitle 4. Probate—Fiduciaries

Kansas

Kansas Statutes, Chapter 59. Probate Code

Kentucky

Kentucky Revised Statutes, Title XXXIV. Descent, Wills, and Administration of Decedents' Estates

Louisiana

Maine

Maine Revised Statutes

Maryland

Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts

Massachusetts

Massachusetts General Laws, Part II. Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations, Title II. Descent and Distribution, Wills, Estates of Deceased Persons and Absentees, Guardianship, Conservatorship and Trusts

Michigan

Michigan Compiled Laws

Minnesota

Minnesota Statutes, Probate; Property; Estates; Guardianships; Anatomical Gifts

Mississippi

Mississippi Code, Title 91. Trusts and Estates

Missouri

Missouri Revised Statutes, Title XXXI. Trusts and Estates of Decedents and Persons Under Disability

Montana

Montana Code Annotated, Title 72. Estates, Trusts, and Fiduciary Relationships

Nebraska

Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 30. Decedents' Estates; Protection of Persons and Property

Nevada

Nevada Revised Statutes

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Statutes, LVI: Probate Courts and Decedents' Estates

Note: The links lead to the New Hampshire Statutes compiled by the General Court of New Hampshire.

New Jersey

New Jersey Statutes

New Mexico

New Mexico Statutes

New York

New York Consolidated Laws, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law - EPT

North Carolina

North Carolina General Statutes

North Dakota

North Dakota Century Code

Ohio

Ohio Revised Code, Title XXI. Courts Probate Juvenile

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Statutes

Note: The link leads to the Oklahoma Statutes compiled by the Oklahoma State Legislature.

Oregon

Oregon Revised Statutes, Title 12. Probate Law

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Statutes

Rhode Island

Rhode Island General Laws, Title 33. Probate Practice and Procedure

South Carolina

South Carolina Code of Laws

Note: The link leads to the South Carolina Code of Laws compiled by the South Carolina Legislature. The compilation is available in HTML and Word.

South Dakota

South Dakota Codified Laws

Note: The link leads to the South Dakota Codified compiled by the South Dakota State Legislature.

Tennessee

Tennessee Code

Texas

Texas Estates Code - EST

Utah

Utah Code

Vermont

Vermont Statutes

Virginia

Virginia Code, Title 64.2. Wills, Trusts, and Fiduciaries

Washington

Washington Revised Code, Title 11. Probate and Trust Law

West Virginia

West Virginia Code

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Statutes

Wyoming

Wyoming Statutes, Title 2. Wills, Decedents' Estates and Probate Code

Need Help Planning Your Estate?

Estate planning does not have to be as daunting as it may seem, especially if you have a relatively small estate. Findlaw's estate planning pages and do-it-yourself tools may help you save time and money.

That said, most laws governing estate planning and administration exist at the state level. A local estate planning attorney can be an important ally. Whether you are making plans for your own estate or have questions about the estate of a deceased loved one, an attorney can help.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified estate planning attorney to help you ensure that your loved ones are cared for and your wishes are honored.

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