What is probate?

The probate process can play a significant role in the administration of an estate. It can also be a costly and time-consuming process that many estate planners and families may wish to avoid which is why estate planners should be familiar with probate basics.

Probate process basics

The most basic description of the probate process is that is a court-supervised process that is designed to transfer the estate planner’s property following their death. The probate process includes:

  • Collecting all probate property of the estate planner;
  • Collecting all rights to income and dividends of the estate;
  • Paying all debts, claims and taxes owed by the estate;
  • Settling any disputes that may involve the estate; and
  • Distributing or transferring any remaining property to the estate planner’s heirs.

The role of the executor

The executor named in the estate planner will typically handle this process but the probate process is overseen by the probate court. If the estate plan or will fails to name an executor, the probate court will appoint and personal representative or administrator the settle the estate planner’s estate. There are many reasons why estate planners should ensure they have a comprehensive estate plan that meets their needs and accomplishes their wishes. Doing so can save family members and loved ones delays and unwanted costs associated with the probate process.

Help with the probate process

Because the probate administration process can take time and may also involves fees that estate planners and their families may wish to avoid, estate planners should be familiar with probate basics. Family members may wish to avoid a lengthy process during a difficult emotional time following the loss of a loved one. For that reason, it is helpful for estate planners to be familiar with some of the options for avoiding the probate process which can include the use of a trust or other estate planning tools and to be generally familiar with the probate process.