Estate planners and families alike may have a variety of questions related to what probate is and what the probate process entails. The probate process simply refers to the process of transferring the estate planner’s property upon their death but it is an important process to understand.

Understanding the probate process can help families during a difficult period of time just as it can also help estate planners wishing to avoid the estate planning process. The probate process handles the administration of the estate planner’s will which ensure that the will is valid and meets all the formalities for a will to be valid that were recently discussed in this blog.

The probate process is a court-supervised process that is handled by the probate court. During the probate process, all of the probate property of the estate planner is collected; all rights to income and dividends of the estate planner are collected; all debts, taxes and claims on the estate planner’s estate are paid; any disputes involving the estate are settled; and any remaining property is distributed to the estate planner’s heirs.

There are several ways to avoid the probate process. Estate planners and families may wish to avoid the probate process because it can be time-consuming and costly. The use of revocable trusts, joint ownership with the right of survivorship account designations and gifts may allow estate planners and their families to avoid the probate process. Being aware of how the probate process works, and how it may be avoided in some circumstances, is valuable information for estate planners to have when setting up their estate plan.