No one enjoys thinking about what will happen in the event they pass away. Death can be a scary thought and it’s emotionally painful to consider how loved ones will be impacted by the loss.

While it is difficult to think about, it is just as hard for your loved ones to be left to cope with grief and endure a complicated division of your estate. When there is no plan in place or a plan isn’t detailed enough, it can eventually lead to probate.

What is probate?

Probate occurs when the court needs to handle the transfer of property of a deceased person to their heirs or beneficiaries. They can help determine who will manage the financial responsibilities of the deceased and confirm whether a will is valid.

In a probate case, an administrator is appointed by the court when there is no will. If there is a will, this person is the executor. This individual is a personal representative who, under the supervision of the court:

  • Collects the assets;
  • Pays the debts and expenses; and
  • Distributes the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries

Probate: A Lengthy Process

A probate case can be time consuming, taking nine to 18 months in many cases or even longer in others. If someone is selected to be an administrator and they are unprepared for the task, they could make unintentional mistakes or omissions that draw out the process further, simply because they are anxious and overwhelmed by the task.

Individuals who want to avoid putting their loved ones through probate can consider working with an estate attorney who represents families in probate cases, because they understand all the details necessary to avoid the court process. Death is never a pleasant thought, but planning can help your loved ones focus on their grief during a time of immense stress.

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