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What to expect from probate

Probate is an integral process to estate administration. Simply put, probate is the process of which a person's property is distributed to the appropriate parties. Probate takes some time because the wishes of the deceased person are usually outlined in a will, and then the property and assets must be collected -- before debts are paid and the beneficiaries eventually receive what the will says they should receive.

Dying without a will means the person is "intestate," which opens up new potential issues. We won't tackle those issues today, but sufficed to say it is far better to have a will in place before you die. 

Probate can either be uncontested or contested. When it is uncontested, it will obviously be a bit smoother and not take as long as a contested probate. The reason why probate can take a long time -- regardless of whether it is contested or not -- is because you have to formally and legally show how the deceased person's assets belong to that person and then why those things should be passed on to beneficiaries.

That's why so many people go to great lengths to avoid the probate process by transferring their property to other people before they die, or by moving assets into a trust. This can bypass the probate process, making things simpler for you and your beneficiaries.

Settling disputes during a contested probate process is crucial for the people who have a stake in the estate. This can be a difficult time, but if you consult with an attorney, you can rest easy knowing your case is being handled properly.

Source: FindLaw, "The Probate Basics," Accessed March 18, 2016

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