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Frequently Asked Questions

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WHAT IS PROBATE?

Probate is a legal process for managing estates of decedents and disabled persons. A court appoints and supervises a responsible individual or trust company, usually as designated by you in your will, who administers and distributes assets. If you have a will, the person appointed is called an "executor," and if you do not have a will, then the person appointed is called an "administrator." Probate has the advantage of involving a judge to help sort out disputes and supervise unsophisticated executors. It also has standard procedures for the orderly payment of claims and distribution of assets. Because a court is involved, probate can be somewhat cumbersome, with the need for preparation of special court documents and attorney appearances in court. With a sophisticated trustee or when all the beneficiaries are in agreement, avoiding probate may be desirable.