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A Trust-based plan, if funded correctly, may not have to go through a probate process. The transfer of control of the assets is usually done through execution of documents at the attorney’s office. These processes are not public record. Your beneficiaries receive their inheritance in accordance with the terms you specified in the trust, and with any and all protections you decided to provide through your plan.
Those clients who have a trust-based plan, will have a different process than one who has a Will-based plan. A Will must be probated. A Probate action happens through a court process where the Will is deposited in the custody of the Court and the Court determines who the beneficiaries are and the court distributes the assets to those beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the Will. If there was no Will or other estate plan in place, then the distribution to beneficiaries will take place in accordance with the laws of the State where the decedent dies or had property located, with total disregard of the decedent’s wishes. This is usually a costly and lengthy process. Distributions are outright to the beneficiaries and provide no protection to the beneficiaries from creditors, predators, divorce or public knowledge.
Administering the estate of a family member can be time consuming and emotionally draining. Handling the details of an estate can be particularly hard if you are grieving the loss of a loved one or if there is disagreement within the family. I regularly represent clients who serve in a fiduciary capacity, such as executors, administrators and guardians. There is more than one way to administer an Estate depending on the planning chosen by the client.