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    Navigating the probate process can be very emotionally taxing. When a loved one passes and leaves an estate behind — whether they had a will or not – the estate must undergo probate to settle the person’s outstanding obligations. An estate can include bank accounts, real estate, or financial investments. The executor, or administrator if there is no will, oversees the probate process for the estate. This involves gathering the decedent’s (the person who passed away) assets to pay any liabilities and to distribute assets to beneficiaries. The process occurs with or without a will. However, having a will can make the process smoother. The only way to avoid the probate process is to transfer assets into a trust.

    How the Probate Process Works

    When a loved one passes, their estate is passed into probate. The probate process will determine where and how the assets of the deceased will be distributed. When the decedent dies, a probate court will review their assets. The court will have final say on the division of assets and distribution to beneficiaries. The process starts by determining if the deceased had a will or not. In most cases, the decedent leaves a will to give clear instructions on how assets will be distributed. The executor, typically a family member or close friend, named in the will is responsible for filing the will with the court. The court then provides them the legal power to act on behalf of the deceased. However, there are some cases where the decedent does not leave a will which is where division and distribution of assets can get tricky.

    How the Probate Process Can be Tricky

    When a person passes without a will, they are said to have died in intestate, according to Investopedia. Intestate can also occur when the court views a will as invalid. In these situations, the distribution of assets is left to be determined by state laws. Once intestate probate commences, the probate court will appoint an administrator. The functions of an administrator mirror that of an executor. They are responsible for the legal obligations of the process, as well as determining distributions. Then, the probate court will finalize how assets will need to be distributed to the heirs. Without instructions from a will, the probate process can often take excessive time.

    How to Make Probate Easier

    Not only can the probate process be lengthy, but it can also be very costly. The more complex the estate is, the more time it will take to distribute the assets, resulting in high legal fees. Navigating probate with a will is the best way to save yourself time and money. However, having a will is not a guarantee the probate process will run smoothly. There are other factors that can  make the process trickier, like if an estate is contested. In the end, having a will or trust is the best way to potentially save yourself the stress of a complicated probate process.