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Basic information about the probate process

We have often discussed how a proper estate plan can help your loved ones to avoid probate court after you pass away. Wills and trusts are two of the documents that can help your loved ones to settle your estate without having to go through long proceedings and the expense that is associated with probate proceedings. Some of our Florida readers might like to know more about probate so they can fully realize the importance of a good estate plan.

Probate is a process that is supervised by the probate court. The role of the court varies according to the case, but it can include deciding if a will is valid, choosing an executor, identifying heirs, paying debts and taxes and distributing any remaining assets.

For people who don't have a will, probate is used to distribute assets in accordance with the intestacy statues of the state. If an estate has to go through the probate process, there is a waiting period that is normal. This can range from 30 to 90 days. The length of time it takes an estate to move through probate can be increased if the will or distribution of assets is challenged by a potential heir.

While probate can be very useful if there are questions about the will, many people would rather get the will and estate handled as quickly as possible. Knowing how to set up trusts and word your will can help you to ensure that your loved ones don't have to drag your estate through probate unless it is required to go through the court by law.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Probate Court?" accessed Feb. 20, 2015

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