Probate & Trust Administration
What happens to your property after you pass away? Who will have the responsibility, and the authority, to manage your assets and affairs when you’re gone?
While the answers to these questions can depend a great deal on how you’ve set up your estate plan, one of the more common ways a deceased person’s property and affairs are handled is through a process known as Probate.
Probate is primarily a legal process whereby property owned by a deceased person is transferred to a living person.
In probate, a court oversees the administration of a decedent’s estate. The case file is a public record. As part of this oversight, the court appoints someone to serve as a Personal Representative (the Executor). This person is granted the legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased person. The Personal Representative is then able to manage the deceased person’s affairs.
The probate process can take anywhere from 6 months to several years to complete. On average, however, we have found that a probate proceeding without complications or conflicts lasts approximately 6-9 months.
If your estate plan uses a trust (as opposed to a will), and it has been properly maintained, your heirs will not have to go through the probate process when you pass away.
Trust estate administration is based on the same concept as a Probate: after you pass away, someone is granted authority to manage your assets and carry out your wishes.
Unlike probate, however, trust estate administration does not require court supervision. Without court supervision, trust estates tend to be less costly than probate, take less time, and generally go more smoothly. Additionally, while probate creates a public record of the entire process, a trust administration can be kept private.