A: Probate is a legal proceeding under the jurisdiction and supervision of the Probate Court in the decedent's county of residence. The probate process is used to appoint an executor, gather and value the decedent's assets, notify and pay creditors, pay court costs and administration expenses, and distribute the remaining assets to the intended beneficiaries.
A: A trust administration is a process used to administer assets in a decedent's trust at the time of death. Many tasks are the same as probate, such as gathering and valuing assets, paying creditors and administration expenses, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. However, there is no Probate Court involvement in a trust administration. This results in no court costs and virtually no court filing requirements. All documents filed with the Probate Court are available for review by the general public, whereas a trust administration protects the privacy of all interested parties. The trust administration process is generally faster than a probate proceeding.
A: When a loved one dies, you should contact a qualified estate planning attorney, preferably the attorney who drafted the estate planning documents. That attorney will be in the best position to readily understand the planning that was done and to advise you accordingly. The ideal time to meet with the attorney is within the first week following the date of death, as this may be a period of time when the family is together. It is important to have this meeting in order to protect the estate planning that was done. Family members who act too quickly without legal advice by selling or distributing assets can unintentionally defeat the terms of the decedent's estate plan.
A: The questions include the following:
A: The length of time for a proper administration varies depending on several factors, which include the size of the estate, the complexity of the assets, the relationship among beneficiaries. A probate proceeding generally takes about 12 months. A trust administration generally takes less time due to the lack of court involvement. The time frame for a typical trust administration is 3 to 12 months.
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