Probate Process

When is Probate Required?

An estate needs to be probated in the county where the decedent resided. The presence or absence of a valid will after death does not determine whether an estate must be opened. Whenever there is a death in New Castle County, an estate must be probated if:

  • The decedent had more than $30,000 in personal property in his/her name alone, or
  • The decedent owned Delaware real estate in his/her name alone, either solely held or as a tenant in common

When the register of wills grants Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration to the Executor or Next-of-kin (see FAQ for definition), the estate is considered open. This process takes approximately one year. Executors or administrators (personal representatives) have several responsibilities. For more information, please refer to the documents and forms below.

Our experienced staff is always available to answer your questions regarding the process of opening, probating, and closing an estate. However, we cannot give legal advice.

There are many attorneys in New Castle County who are experienced with estate law. We recommend that you contact an attorney for advice if you have any concerns, the estate is complex, or you would simply like someone to handle these matters on your behalf. The Delaware State Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service can assist you in finding counsel, they can be contacted at 302-478-8850 or 800-773-0606 from Kent and Sussex counties.