The process of probate is overseeing the gathering of assets, settling debts, and distributing estate to heirs. But unfortunately, for some families, probate will be a stressfully bureaucratic process that can take months or even years to complete. A smaller estate may be probated in about a year, but around two years is not rare. In particular, larger estates with high assets may take several years. This process is understandably frustrating for surviving loved ones, especially during a time when they are in the midst of their grief.
Because probate is a court process, is it open to the public. Thus, anyone can access personal and detailed information about the deceased, their assets, and heirs. This includes names of creditors and the amount of debts. For this reason, many people try to avoid having their estate go through probate. Most people don’t want their finances and property to be seen and possibly scrutinized by the public.
In general, the process of probate goes as follows:
- File petition for probate
- Notice to administer published
- Hearing date is scheduled and letters are issued
- Inventory is prepared and filed
- Notice given to known creditors (and claims are rejected or accepted)
- Notice of final accounting submitted
- Court approved final accounting
- Assets are distributed as pursuant to a court order
A revocable trust can help avoid probate. In this way, assets are transferred to a living trust throughout the lifetime. When you have a trust, the assets are no longer in the person’s name, but in the name of the trust. And, with a living trust, you and your partner or spouse can edit or revoke it at any time needed.