Probate is something that many people have little experience with, and that’s fine. It just means they have some questions as they try to sort everything out. As you’ll see, you can discover the critical answers and move forward with this process in a smooth and efficient fashion. To get started, here are five common questions and answers:

  1. What are the two types of probate? The two general types of are known as intestate and testate. They mean that there is no will or that the person did have a will, respectively.
  2. What is the goal of probate? The goal is simply to move assets from the estate of the deceased to the beneficiaries. In cases where there is a will, the directions are spelled out and the estate administrator simply has to follow them. Cases without a will can get much more complicated as those who stand to inherit have to decide what that person would have wanted and what the law allows.
  3. Does it take long to prove that a will is real? Generally, no, it does not take long. It may be just 15 minutes. When it takes longer is when someone challenges the validity of that will. For instance, an heir who received less than the others may be more likely to challenge to see if they can get a more equal split of the assets.
  4. How long does probate itself take? It can take months. Remember that the estate administrator has to gather the assets, take inventory, check the will (if one exists) and then distribute those assets. They may also need to do things like paying off final bills and determining what to do with major assets like real estate.
  5. Do people look for ways to avoid probate? They do. Usually, there are financial reasons. They may find that they can pay less in taxes by creating a trust to keep their assets out of probate, for example. It is not in everyone’s best interests to avoid probate, but it is helpful for some.

These are certainly not all of the questions that you want to ask, but they are a good starting point as you consider this process. Make sure you are well aware of all of the legal options you have and what steps to take.