Is a Trust Required to Avoid Probate?

Various estate planning myths could cost you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve established documents and strategies to carry out your wishes as you want, and these could also harm your loved ones in the future.

The truth is that not all of your assets fall into the probate process anyways. Some things, like funds from your life insurance policy or retirement accounts, will transfer without going through the public process of probate. Other things can be designated as payable on death or transfer on death to help remove them from your probate estate, too.

One misconception is that you may assume that you need a trust to avoid probate. It can be beneficial to help you avoid probate and to accomplish other estate planning goals, however.

When you create a will, this will is submitted to the probate court when you pass away for the distribution of your assets. The will tells the court and your chosen executor important things, such as who is in charge of the estate, who is eligible to receive guardianship of any minor children and what happens to your assets. Wills do not avoid probate. In fact, this requires appropriately retitling your assets.

Probate is problematic because there are executor and legal fees involved, it can be time consuming, and information about your personal estate is entered into the private record. A trust is one way you could avoid probate, but there are other ways to avoid probate without a trust, such as transfer on death affidavits, joint and survivor assets and beneficiary designations for individual retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, and 401(k) accounts.

Whether or not you need a trust is a conversation you should have with an experienced estate planning lawyer. Communicate with our Pasadena area estate planning lawyers for more support with your planning strategy.

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