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What is the purpose of probate and can it be contested?

Probate is the legal process of administrating a person's estate after their death. While there are ways that probate can be avoided, for example through the creation of a trust, in the majority of cases at least a portion of a person's assets will be subject to probate.

If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be faced with the responsibility of overseeing the probate process, and you may have questions about why and how it is conducted. The following is an overview of the purpose of probate and a summary of how it typically takes place.

The purpose of probate

Probate is supervised by the courts, and is conducted in order to establish all assets within the estate, and to make sure that all assets are distributed according to the latest valid will.

It's common for estate planners to seek to avoid probate. This tends not to be due to any issue with the process itself, but because the fees connected to the probate process can be significant. Many estate planners put assets in a trust specifically to bypass the probate process.

What happens in the probate process?

The probate process includes several steps that work to ensure that all assets are adequately taken care of. First, all probate property will be identified. Then, all debts, taxes and claims will be paid off, and all disputes will be settled. When there are no further claims to the estate, the remaining assets will be disputed among the heirs.

Can the probate process be disputed?

It is possible to contest certain issues in the probate process. Usually, this is done when an heir believes that the will being followed is invalid, or if they believe that there is another will that should be followed instead. There are many ways to contest a will, and commonly heirs try to show that the deceased person lacked the mental capacity to make the will or that they were affected by undue influence.

If you are concerned about the course of action that is being taken in the probate process of a deceased loved one's estate, look into ways that you can effectively contest the will being followed.

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