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To Probate or Not to Probate

In a recent piece for Investing Daily, Bob Carlson took a look at the question of probate. When planning your estate, you have many options to consider. Do you want to set up a will or a trust? Have you accounted for end-of-life care and other important questions?

When you're considering the distribution of assets from your estate, you should also consider the way in which they will be distributed. Inevitably, the question of probate will arise.

Probate is a legal procedure during which an individual's estate is administered. The probate judge will determine the validity of a will and then the will's executor will parcel out the assets as directed.

If there is no will in place, or the will is unclear, probate can be a long and confusing process. In the end, it can cost family members hundreds of thousands of dollars - especially if there is disagreement as to the deceased's wishes.

If an estate is especially complicated, or if an individual is concerned that his or her wishes will be contested, then probate can be a good thing. As Carlson points out, probate is conducted in a courtroom. The distribution of assets is public and the entire process is overseen by the court.

These factors would make it difficult for disgruntled family members to tamper with the estate plan.

Then again, these factors also mean that estate distribution will take longer. If you want to save as much money as possible, then setting up a trust may be the best option for you. 

In the end, the plan should fit your situation and goals.

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