What is the probate process?

Knowing what the probate process is and what it includes is helpful for family members of loved ones who have passed away to understand. The probate process is essentially a process supervised by the court that manages the distribution of property after a loved one has died.

The probate administration process is essentially a process of administering an estate and a will is part of an estate plan that is commonly probated. In many circumstances, families may wish to avoid the probate process and understand how to do that. The probate process can be costly and time consuming. There are different legal options to avoid probate including owning property through joint ownership with the right of survivorship; gifts; and revocable trusts that are all useful options for estate planners to be familiar with.

The probate process may be contested or uncontested. Reasons to contest may be if a potential heir believes a will was not properly executed, that the estate planner did not have capacity to execute the will or there was undue influence during the will execution process. The probate administration process involves collecting all property of the lost loved one; paying all debts, claims and taxes owed by the estate; collecting all rights to income and dividends; settling any disputes; and distributing and transferring remaining property to heirs.

Because of the complexities of the probate process, and its importance for families of surviving loved ones, it is useful to understand. It is helpful for families to understand what the probate process does, the steps in the process and how to avoid it when desirable.

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