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Settling the estate of a loved one can be a complex process, and a grieving family may not be certain of what to expect. It is likely you will have to navigate probate, which is the court-supervised process of settling remaining matters associated with the estate of the deceased and distributing his or her assets according to instructions left in a will. It also involves the payment of any remaining debt.

Because probate is a potentially complicated legal process, you may find it beneficial to learn more about what to expect. If you are the executor of the estate, there will be certain things expected of you as you will oversee the steps required to settle and eventually close the estate. By preparing ahead and understanding the probate process, you may be able to avoid complications and setbacks that sometimes occur during the probate process.

What will happen next?

In many cases, the deceased will name a person to act as executor of his or her estate. If the will does not include the appointment of this important role, the court will do so. Probate applies to all estate assets not held in trusts or directly transferred through contract law or title law. Some of the following facts about probate may be useful to you as you look ahead:

  • Assets left to heirs in a will must go through probate in order for them to transfer ownership.
  • Assets owned by a person who passes away without a will must go through the probate process.
  • Probate can take several months or even years to complete, depending on issues with the estate, disputes among heirs and more.

The probate process begins with filing the will with the appropriate court. While it can be a lengthy, confusing and complicated process, you and your family do not have to go through the probate process alone.

Complex legal issues

When walking through the probate process, it is likely you will have to address complex legal concerns. Being prepared is key, and you can start by seeking an assessment of your situation and explanation of what to expect as early as possible. Your effort in the beginning and understanding of how to navigate probate can save you and your loved ones from additional difficulties following the loss of a family member.