What is Probate?
Whether or not you have a will, your estate will go through probate. So what is probate? Probate is a court preceding that formally distributes the assets from an estate when a person dies. These assets can include property, financial accounts, stocks, and more.
During this process, the court will examine the validity of the will and determine the executor. The court then interprets the instructions of the will. Probate can be very costly and time consuming.
During these proceedings, the assets are frozen unless the court allows for them to be sold or transferred. However, the executor is still responsible for paying debts and taxes. This obviously can be very frustrating and inconvenient. In addition, the process can take a long time, usually up to two years! Most beneficiaries don't find this pleasant, and rarely does it benefit them.
Luckily, there are ways to avoid probate. One of which is to set up a living trust. There are several other ways as well; speaking to a lawyer can help you determine which is the best solution is for you.
If you can't avoid probate, having a properly drafted will can help these proceedings run quicker and smoother. Proper preparation pays off immensely when dealing with estate planning. You will be happy you took the steps you did to prepare.