Probate is the court process that looks after people who cannot make their own personal, healthcare, and financial decisions. These people fall into three general categories: Minor children (under age 18 in most states); incapacitated adults, and people who have died without legal arrangements to avoid probate.
Probate proceedings can be expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, the court proceeding and associated documents are all a matter of public record. Many people choose to avoid probate in order to save money, spare their heirs a legal hassle, and keep their personal affairs private.