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Probate vs. Trust Administration

David W. Walker Attorney At Law Jan. 17, 2024

Senior couple signing estate planning documentDiscussing estate planning can evoke strong emotions. It's tough to think about what happens after we're gone, but making these decisions now can save your loved ones unnecessary stress and complications later on. Probate and trust administration are two distinct processes related to the distribution of your assets after your death. Both have their own unique procedures, benefits, and drawbacks. As an attorney based in Columbia, Missouri, serving clients throughout Fulton, Boonville, and Jefferson City, I'm here to help guide you through these processes. If you're looking for support in this area, reach out to me today for legal guidance. 

Probate vs. Trust Administration

By understanding the features, differences, and implications of probate and trust administration, you can make informed decisions that best safeguard your assets and provide for your loved ones. When you work with me, we'll dive into the main considerations for each process. 


Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. It involves proving in court that a deceased person's will is valid, identifying and inventorying the deceased person's property, appraising the property, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there's no will) directs. 

The process can be lengthy and complicated. It may involve multiple court appearances and a lot of paperwork. But as your attorney, my role is to make this process as seamless as possible for you. 

Trust Administration

Trust administration, on the other hand, refers to the management and distribution of assets held in a trust after the grantor's death. Unlike probate, trust administration doesn't involve court supervision unless disputes arise. 

The process of trust administration involves several steps, including notification of beneficiaries, payment of debts, and distribution of assets according to the terms of the trust. While it can be complex, I am here to help administer the trust correctly and efficiently. 

How It Affects Family and Loved Ones

The probate process can be costly and time-consuming, which can place an additional burden on your loved ones during an already difficult time. Furthermore, probate proceedings are public record, which means your family's private matters could become public knowledge. 

Trust administration, while initially more complex and potentially more expensive, is designed to spare your family the hassle of probate. Trusts offer privacy, as they're not subject to public court proceedings, and can often result in a faster distribution of assets to beneficiaries. 

Wills may be cheaper upfront, but your loved ones will likely have to go through probate. Trusts might seem trickier and pricier at first glance, but they're designed to prevent your family from having to navigate the probate process. 

Comparing Probate and Trust Administration

Despite their distinct processes and impacts, probate and trust administration share some similarities and exhibit differences. Here's a concise comparison for a better understanding: 


  • Purpose: Both probate and trust administration aim to ensure the deceased person's assets are properly distributed according to their wishes or state law. 

  • Legal Oversight: Both processes involve some degree of legal oversight, whether from the courts (in probate) or from a designated trustee (in trust administration). 

  • Debt Payment: Probate and trust administration both require the deceased person's debts to be paid before the distribution of assets. 


  • Court Involvement: Probate requires court supervision throughout the entire process, making it public record. Trust administration, however, typically doesn’t involve court supervision unless disputes arise, thereby maintaining privacy. 

  • Time and Cost: Probate can be lengthy and costly due to court involvement, whereas trust administration is generally quicker and potentially less expensive in the long run. 

  • Asset Distribution: In probate, assets are distributed as directed by the will or state law (if there's no will). In contrast, trust administration distributes assets as per the terms of the trust. 

While both have their unique features, benefits, and drawbacks, understanding these can help you make well-informed decisions. As your legal advisor, I can provide the guidance you need to navigate these processes, ensure your wishes are honored, and keep your loved ones' best interests at heart. Remember, the choice between probate and trust administration ultimately depends on your personal circumstances, preferences, and estate planning goals. 

Navigate Probate and Trust Administration with David W. Walker Attorney At Law

As an experienced attorney based in Columbia, Missouri, I am committed to guiding you through the complexities of probate and trust administration. I understand that these topics can be overwhelming, but with my help, you can make informed decisions that will protect your family and your legacy. 

Reach out to me for a consultation. Together, we can create an estate plan that reflects your wishes and provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Remember, it's not just about planning for the future; it's about protecting those you love. Call me today, and let's start this journey together.