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While planning your estate, questions from your beneficiaries may come up regarding probate.

Probate is often seen as a frustrating step in the estate process, but when handled correctly, you should not have to worry about it being inefficient.

Definition

Probate is the process of appointing an executor to help fulfill your wishes after you pass away. According to the American Bar Association, this executor is the main administrator of your will. This person is responsible for distributing assets, along with many other tasks. Choosing someone responsible who knows you well is key.

Other factors

Probate processes typically vary in each state, with the length of time and complications associated with it getting shorter each year. Instead of focusing on shortening the process itself, it may be helpful to focus on outside factors that could disrupt completing it.

These could be events such as lawsuits from possible heirs left out of the will, or other legal entanglements. In addition, you may not even need probate for some property, such as life insurance. These items circumvent the probate process due to getting passed directly to a beneficiary.

Choices 

One unique situation is when you have a living trust, which can own financial accounts or even real estate in your stead. In theory, it shortens the time needed for probate because you do not need a probate judge to oversee the process. However, it is nearly impossible to bypass every waiting period, which may render your choice of choosing a living trust over a will moot in the long run.

In the end, it is best to choose a living trust or any other process based on their benefits, rather than trying to avoid probate.