Going Through Probate

Here's a look at what you can expect from the probate process.

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Probate has a scary reputation--the common wisdom is that it takes years to finish, is too difficult for anyone but a professional to handle, and is horribly expensive. There's a grain of truth in all the dire warnings, because probate can be expensive and time-consuming. But for most executors, shepherding an estate through probate court is not a terrible experience.

Probate, mostly, is paperwork. You may never see the inside of a courtroom; you'll file the required papers with the court clerk and be done. Unless beneficiaries or creditors object to how you're handling estate assets, court supervision of your actions is likely to be minimal. If you're honest, conscientious, and patient, you'll be fine.

Keep in mind that many courts provide forms, instructions, and help for executors. And you can always hire a probate lawyer to advise you, prepare the paperwork, or answer questions. The attorney's fees are paid from estate assets, not your own pocket.

Serving as Executor? Nolo Can Help.

Find a local lawyer for advice or handle the estate yourself with nolo's award winning do-it-yourself legal books.

The Executor's Guide

The Executor's Guide

Settle an estate or trust with this all-in-one guide for executors. The Executor's Guide will help you make progress one step at a time through the unfamiliar land of legal procedures and terminology.

The Trustee's Legal Companion

The Trustee's Legal Companion

Learn the ins and outs of being a trustee with this guide for every trust administrator. The Trustee’s Legal Companion shows you exactly how to proceed within the terms of the trust and your state's law.

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