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Do you understand what happens in probate?

If you don't understand what happens in probate, you could find yourself confused and searching for answers after the passing of a loved one.

The way you handle the probate process is based largely on the state in which you live and the type of estate planning documents the deceased person had in place at the time of his or her death.

The probate process can be uncontested or contested. Generally speaking, contested probate is typically brought about when a person feels that he or she is not receiving as much of the decedent's property as he or she should.

While the probate process can and will differ from one person to the next, here are the basics:

-- The collection of all probate property of the deceased.

-- All debts, such as taxes, should be paid.

-- The collection of all rights to income.

-- All disputes should be settled.

-- Transferring or distributing all remaining property to the heirs, as based on the decedent's estate plan.

In a perfect world, the probate process would unfold without any concerns. In the real world, however, this doesn't always happen. There are many reasons for this, including disputes and the fact that some assets may not be accounted for.

When you understand what happens in probate, you will be in better position to handle this situation should you be faced with it in the future. The decisions that you make will impact you, among many others, so it is important that you know what is expected of you and how to avoid any mistakes.

Source: FindLaw, "The Probate Basics," accessed June 08, 2016

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