A will is a legal document in which someone can state who should get his assets when he dies, who should be the executor, where he should be buried, etc. Assuming that a will meets the legal requirements, such as having two witnesses, it will control who inherits how much.
That depends. Some probate cases are pretty simple, but some can be very complex and time-consuming. Since most attorneys don’t charge for an initial consultation, it’s best to talk with an attorney before starting probate.
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In many cases where an estate is taking a while to administer, the Executor/Executrix/Personal Representative can distribute many of the assets to the heirs.