Do you have a loved one that recently passed away, and are you the one chosen to settle the estate for them? If so, you likely have several questions about the probate process. Many tough decisions will need to be made about what happens to their assets, and there is a set of laws that help make those decisions for you. 

Can Probate Be Avoided Entirely?

While it is possible to set up estate planning to avoid probate, it is up to each individual to set up their estate plan properly, and there's not much you can do about it after the fact. Even if someone created a will, it is very likely that many of their assets will need to go through probate. Any asset that is owned jointly with a surviving spouse doesn't need to go through probate, such as a home. The same goes for any assets that are transferred upon someone's death, such as a financial account where someone is listed as the beneficiary. Chances are that there are some assets that must go through the probate process to officially decide who they go to. 

What Happens If There Isn't A Will?

One of the benefits of probate is that it solves a lot of the decisions about who will receive items if there is no will in place. At the most basic levels, assets go to a surviving spouse when there is not a will, and if a surviving spouse does not exist, then it goes to the children. Many people are okay with this, and let the law carry out the process of dividing an estate.

However, things get much more complicated when there are multiple children when dividing the estate between them, or the children are under 18 and there is no surviving spouse. That's where the probate process helps make some tough decisions for everyone involved.

How Long Will Probate Take?

The length of the probate process could take several months or several years, which really depends on how complicated the estate is and if anybody decides to contest it. A small estate with a clear heir could be resolved in a matter of months, but a large estate with many children disagreeing about who will receive which assets will be difficult to resolve in the probate process. That's why a probate lawyer is necessary to help guide you through it. Having somebody that is familiar with probate laws will ensure that things go as smoothly as possible and are done correctly. 

Reach out to a probate law services provider to learn more.