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The basics of the probate process

Probate is an important part of the estate planning process to be familiar with. Because probate can have such a significant impact on the way an estate is distributed, it is essential to understand what the probate process is and ways to avoid it if necessary.

The probate process is a court-supervised process that distributes a person’s estate after they pass. The probate process entails collecting all a person’s probate property; collecting all of his or her rights to income and dividends; paying all of the estate’s debts and taxes; settling any disputes against the estate; and distributing remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries or heirs.

The Length Of Probate

The probate process can be costly and time-consuming during a difficult time for families following the loss of their loved one and will include attorney’s fees and court costs.  Because families may wish to avoid the time and cost associated with the probate process, it is helpful for them to be familiar with some of the estate planning tools that can help. The use of a trust may help avoid the probate process altogether. Also, using joint ownership and certain beneficiary designations may also help.

Families should keep the probate process in mind when estate planning and account for it in their estate plan. To do so, they should understand the basics of probate, what it does and how to avoid if when needed.