Probate is the administrative process that involves the court and typically will take one of two paths: it can either be handled through a process called independent administration where the court has limited involvement, or it can be handled through dependent administration which involves the court supervising most aspects of the process.
Trusts, on the other hand, do not involve the courts. During administration, the trustee is responsible for managing (and possibly distributing) the trust assets for the trust beneficiaries in the manner prescribed by the terms of the trust. Among other benefits, trust administration is completely private – there is no opportunity for individuals not associated with the trust to know what assets are held in the trust, who (or what) benefits from them, or any of the trust terms. Of course, there still can be disputes that arise during trust administration, but a well-drafted trust agreement will avoid most of them and will also provide mechanisms for resolving issues outside of formal litigation and court involvement.
Please contact us if we can help you navigate administration of an estate. We’ll be happy to provide you with a complimentary no-obligation consultation to discuss your matter.