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What is probate?

When it comes to wills and estates, there are always people talking about probate. Probate gets a bad connotation because so many people talk about instances where it takes a long time and causes a lot of disruption. In reality, this is not true of most cases. It greatly helps to understand a little more about probate, so if you have a loved one who's estate will go to probate, you will then know what to expect.

The American Bar Association defines probate as the legal process to validate a will or estate. It involves going to court. The court assigns the executor and oversees the legal handling of the deceased's assets to ensure the carrying out of his or her wishes.

Probate can be very simple or very complex. It mainly depends on your estate. If you have a will that is clear and valid, then it can go more quickly. Generally, if you have a small estate, it does not take much time to go through probate. However, if you have a large estate or there are complexities to it, then this will take more time.

It is possible to avoid probate or at least make probate easier and quicker by planning ahead. For example, if you transfer your assets through trusts before you die, this will simply transfer to your heir automatically upon your death without the need for the court's intervention. The same is true for any assets with joint owners or if you have a spouse who will inherit everything. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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