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Can the 'Four A's' help you deal with probate litigation stress?

Anytime you have to deal with the legal system or courts, it can be stressing. While there's typically nothing to fear from the probate process, there might be a lot at stake.

Simply dealing with the unfamiliar formalities of the legal process can be overwhelming. One of the best ways to reduce your stress level during probate litigation is to work with an estate law professional that you trust and who can explain each step to you while handling the details.

You can also use the "Four A's" to help deal with some of the stress. The first A is avoid. You can't avoid probate matters completely, but planning ahead, taking action in a timely manner and working with a lawyer are all ways to reduce -- or avoid -- the stress associated with the process.

The second A is alter. By the time an estate hits probate, it's too late to alter the actual estate planning or documents, but you can make changes to your approach or ask others to make changes. For example, if family infighting is leading to stress during the probate process, you might sit down with each other to decide on some behavioral rules so everyone can remain civil during the process. It's probably a good idea to consult your lawyer before you agree to anything during such meetings, though.

The third A is accept. You might need to simply accept that probate is occurring, and this can be difficult when you are dealing with loss or grief. Often, time is the only answer for this particular stress.

Finally, you can adapt. In probate, that could mean changing your expectations of the estate, or understanding that things aren't going to work out exactly as you thought they would. The will or other estate documents might not be in line with what you wanted, but as long as they are valid, you might have to accept and abide by them.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Need stress relief? Try the 4 A's," accessed Jan. 13, 2017

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