Probate and Trust Administration
Probate is the judge-supervised process of paying a deceased person's legitimate bills, inventorying and appraising his or her assets, and distributing the assets to the decedent's heirs or beneficiaries according to the decedent’s will. If the decedent died without a will, the court will administer the estate by applying what the law has to determined to be a plan that the decedent would most likely would have made by himself or herself. The property does not go to the state unless the decedent died with no survivor who meets the requirements of the law’s plan.
Few people voluntarily choose probate. Usually they were too busy or preoccupied with health or other issues to plan. They pass away without a living trust and their heirs, usually the spouse or children, find that they can't sell a house or make certain other transfers without court approval. Even with a will, they may have to file a probate proceeding.
Trust Administration usually does not involve court proceedings or dispute resolution. Even so, properties must be transferred, final income tax returns filed and other the trustor’s wishes must be carried out. Occasionally, a trust is administered by the court if there is a dispute between beneficiaries or successor trustees as to the meaning of certain provisions in the trust.
Generally the simplest way to avoid necessity of court intervention in an administration of a trust is to take the extra time to do a simple, tailored trust agreement so that the process is expedited and simplified which tends to reduce the risk of post mortem disputes.