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Understand What Probate Is

 Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are planning your estate, it is important to know what all your options are. Most people will have a will, although some people opt for a trust. One of the biggest advantages a trust offers over a will is avoiding probate. So to make the most informed decision you can, you need to have an understanding of what probate is.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the first step in carrying out a will. The court acknowledges it, appoints an executor, and takes care of any administrative or accounting requirements. Most of the time, you will hear about probate in the context of how long it takes. Many people are anxious about their estate being stuck in probate for months or even years, while their loved ones wait endlessly to receive what they hoped to pass on.

This is something that can really happen, although it is much rarer than many sources claim. In reality, probate will only last an unusually long time if the will was not set up correctly. For example, the court needs to appoint someone as the executor of the will. If the will itself designates someone as the executor, then that is a step that will only take the court a few minutes. There are many parts of will that similarly have the potential to slow probate down.

Is a Trust Better?

You may be wondering if having a trust is a better alternative. After all, if there’s a chance of your will being stuck in probate, even if it is a small chance, wouldn’t avoiding the risk altogether be a good idea?  Indeed, a trust does avoid probate, which can be beneficial if you are anticipating a long probate for your estate. A trust also offers a few other advantages:

  • Allow you to set conditions on each possession
  • Avoid having estate taxes taken out
  • More control over every aspect of your estate

On the other hand, you will need to pay a fee when setting up a trust. In most cases, the fee will be more than you would pay in estate taxes with a will. There is a reason wills are more common than trusts, after all. But that does not mean a will is guaranteed to be the best choice for you. You should take the time to speak with a probate lawyer to learn more about how these benefits apply to your unique circumstances. Then you can make the most well-informed decision possible.


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