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Is My Will a Shield Against Probate?

There are so many different myths out there surrounding the process of estate planning that it is often too late after someone realizes that a mistake has been made. You may have experienced a loved one who has passed away and left inadequate estate planning instructions. These can be catastrophic and extremely difficult emotionally for family members to handle in the wake of grief.

For this reason, you need to engage in the process of estate planning early and update your estate plan on a regular basis. One common mistake that people make is thinking of their will as their only tool and shield against probate. Many people are under the impression that if they have a will that they do not need to go through the court system or probate. 

Revocable living trusts are a tool that enable you to avoid probate; however, the revocable trust is not effective unless your assets are retitled into the trust name. If you hold the assets in your name alone without a beneficiary designation then the assets are distributed in accordance with the terms of your will.

Before any assets can be collected or distributed with the help of your executor, you have to go through the court system and probate. You may be able to express who is eligible to receive what in your will but this situation could still end up in the courts determining the distribution of assets. It is much better to engage in the process of estate planning now by scheduling a consultation with an attorney who can walk you through the pros and cons of various tools and ensure that the strategies you select are in line with your personal needs and wishes for the future.



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