Probate is usually required of assets that are titled in an individual’s name. An estate that is probated without any type of will or trust is usually distributed via instructions in the law, this is called intestate succession. An estate may also be probated according to instructions contained within a will. In both cases a personal representative is appointed to represent the decedent. This person acts on behalf of the estate during a period in which the court administers the estate and ultimately distributes the assets. Merely having a trust in existence will not necessarily mean that a probate will be avoided. A plan that has been poorly maintained may have to have a probate instead of, or in addition to, a trust administration. Drawbacks to probate include the long period of time that a probate takes, the stress on the family, the public nature of the proceedings, and the expensive fees associated with the process.

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