Is probate always a bad thing?

After you pass on, it is a normal part of the estate administration process for your assets to be distributed to your heirs. This should happen whether or not you wrote a will or designated a trust fund for your loved ones. You may have heard stories about what can happen if your estate goes into probate. Like many Detroit residents, you may wish to avoid the hassle and tension of probate for your heirs whenever possible. It can help to understand how the probate process works.

According to the American Bar Association, it is normal and routine for estates to be handled to some extent by a probate judge or administrator. Simply explained, the process appoints someone to distribute your estate to the beneficiaries and to make sure your wishes are carried out. If you created a strong will or trust, the chances are good that there will be few complications during this legal process.

However, there may be problems if there were no instructions on how to handle your estate, or if your heirs have a dispute. This might occur if a family member feels that he or she is being slighted in favor of someone else, or if there was a misunderstanding. For example, your daughter might feel entitled to an heirloom that you had promised to another family member, but forgot to put in the will.

Careful estate planning may help your heirs avoid family fights and ensure your estate is divided according to your will. This information, however, should not replace the advice of a lawyer.