Can I avoid probate with a Will?

Lately we have had several people ask us whether a having a Will means they can avoid Probate. The short answer is, probably not.

A Will, as we have discussed before, is actually a set of directions you have written for your probate estate. This includes all of the property you own for which title does not automatically transfer to the person you have named at your death. Examples of property that avoids probate includes property owned with a right of survivorship or assets which have a beneficiary named (such as life insurance policies and bank accounts that have transfer on death designations set up).

Probate can be a serious concern because any property that passes through Probate will be subject to creditors’ claims such as final medical expenses, nursing home costs, or any other final bills of the decedent. This process can also take over a year to complete and often leads to litigation between heirs when there is a disagreement. We will be posting later this month about the best ways to avoid probate, and will be spending next month talking about the ways to best manage an estate if it does have to go through Probate.

In the meantime, if you have an urgent question feel free to give us a call and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.