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Probate is not necessarily a dirty word

Of all the words associated with estate planning, probate carries one of the most negative connotations. Many Florida residents' views of probate are so gloomy that they set up their wills and estates in order to make every effort to avoid probate. Probate can be an expensive hassle for heirs; however, the process may not be as bad as some may believe. Probate is the normal method by which a will is processed, and it is intended to distribute, settle and manage the decedent's property according to their wishes.

Many people may find themselves spending more money than they should in order to avoid probate. In many cases, however, probate is a reasonably short process and may take less than a year. In addition, certain states have an expedited process for probate for estate settlements under a certain amount.

Many people try to avoid probate by putting all of their assets and wishes in a living will; however, living wills may be limited, particularly if an individual wishes to add assets. A will serves as a safety net to cover certain items when other documents cannot.

Because the probate process limits the amount of time that creditors are allowed to make claims against an estate, the process can actually help heirs avoid the hassle of creditor claims. Finally, probate enables the decedents to carry out their loved one's wishes and might prevent parts of the estate being allocated to family members trying to get more assets than intended.

The passing of a loved one is a sorrowful time, and for many, the probate process can be overwhelming, particularly if there are individuals who wish to contest the will. An attorney may be able to help with the process by offering options to those left behind in order to work through issues such as creditor claims and probate litigation.

Source: Life Health Pro, "6 reasons why probate isn't that bad", Tom Nawrocki, September 13, 2013

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