Your Roadmap to Probate: Understanding the Process and Maximizing Your Benefits

Probate is often used as a generic term for the entire administration of a deceased’s estate, and is therefore not a welcome conversation. It can often be a messy process, so it is important to understand what probate exactly is, and how estate planning can help minimize or avoid it. In this blog, we will learn more about probate and what steps you can take.


Simply put, probate is a court-supervised process of distributing a deceased person’s property to their descendants or designated beneficiaries. It can sometimes take 6 to 9 months or longer to finish this process. For a grieving family, this can add to their emotional distress tenfold. 

The probate process starts with finding a will and proving that it is authentic. If there is no will, the court follows the respective state’s laws of inheritance. To find out about probate specifically in Arizona – read here. Usually, a will has an appointed executor, if not, then one is appointed to it. The executor will gather all the property, pay pending bills and taxes, and distribute the assets. 

This seems straightforward enough, so why the long waiting times and the bad connotations? 

Challenges in Probate

Well, if the estate is really big, or if things aren’t as clearly defined, it can take a while to track everything down and ensure all the taxation is done before the distribution. Aside from this, there are court costs that families need to bear which can start to add up, especially if an attorney is needed. These court proceedings can also cause the loved ones distress at a time when they should be allowed to focus on healing.

Additionally, in some states, there are rules about publishing a notice in the newspaper and then waiting for 4-6 months to allow for contestations to the will. This further extends the time, so it’s also important to find out about state-specific laws and procedures. 

So how can you make this process easier?

Benefits of Estate Planning

Having an estate plan in place can help. Experts in estate planning can assess your specific situation and assets and let you know what the best plan is for you to make the administration of your will easy.

Some of the strategies to simplify probate that we can discuss as your estate planning firm are:

  • Joint ownership: If your spouse or children are co-owners of your property or other parts of your estate, those assets will not need to be part of the probate.
  • Charity giving can also reduce the amount of assets in probate, and setting up a  Charitable Remainder Trust can also give your loved ones a lifetime stream of income.
  • Using trusts can be helpful as well, as they will not be part of your probate, despite you controlling or benefiting from the assets in the trust. Your “trustees” will take control without needing a probate.

There are more strategies that you can employ to avoid a long, cumbersome probate. However, it is important to discuss them with your estate planning lawyers, as our advice will be tailored specifically to your situation. What works well for someone else, may not for you. All these strategies also come with its challenges, such as joint ownership with your children getting complicated in case of their divorce. To avoid such issues, hiring estate law specialists is key.


The process of probate can take months and keeping track of everything can be distracting. It can lead to more distress at an already difficult time. To make this process as easy as you can for your loved ones, to ensure they don’t have to deal with delays and long waiting times and to allow them the peace of mind they deserve, plan ahead. 

Find out how you can be prepared, because, with the right guidance, and the right planning, probate can be made easy.

Book a consultation with us today to start your estate planning and take the necessary steps to make the probate process as smooth as possible!