When a loved one passes away, the Understanding probate process can feel intimidating. While understanding what probate is and how it works will not ease the pain of loss, it can make navigating this legal proceeding a bit more manageable.

Do you still have to go through probate if you have a will ?

Phil Baumann: Probate — what it does, technically speaking — is it validates the will of the person who has died. It’s also often used to mean the whole administration of the decedent’s estate, and that includes gathering up all of the assets and determining what debts are owed, including taxes, and then distributing what is left after paying those bills. Rick Gans: It’s more than that, though. It involves a lot of work and is time consuming. And it can be expensive.

To avoid probate, people can create trusts during their lifetime or use beneficiary designations on certain assets, such as life insurance policies and “Totten Trusts.” But even with this type of planning, there are still some instances in which a probate will be required.

It is important to understand what probate is so you can plan accordingly for the future. While the process can be difficult, it can help ensure that a deceased loved one’s wishes are respected, their legitimate debts are paid, and their property is distributed in a systematic way. This can help to avoid disputes and potential litigation that may arise during the process. As always, it’s recommended to consult with a qualified estate attorney for specific advice.

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