One of the most common questions that people have about estate planning, is how to avoid probate. You probably cannot do so entirely, but you can make it quick and painless.
For most people, the word "probate" conjures up nightmare scenarios of protracted estate battles that cost lots of money and tear families apart. It is an ugly word for most people.
As a result, most people generally want to avoid having their estates go through probate.
In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions of estate planning attorneys is how to avoid probate, as Forbes points out in "Probate, Wills, Executors: Your Estate Planning Questions Answered."
It is important to understand that probate is merely the type of court that a will or an estate without a will has to go through.
Most of the time, it is a relatively simple process, especially with the assistance of an estate attorney. However, there are times when it can be long and expensive, so the desire to want to avoid it are not unjustified.
The key is to have an estate plan that utilizes instruments that do not have to go through probate. The most typical of these are trusts, but there are other more complex legal instruments that can also be used.
However, even the most airtight probate avoidance estate plan might have to go through the probate process briefly.
All estate plans should have at least a simple pour-over will that directs any unaccounted for assets into a previously created trust.
If there are enough unaccounted for assets, they will need to go through probate. However, the process should be quick and easy.
Reference: Forbes (April 7, 2017) "Probate, Wills, Executors: Your Estate Planning Questions Answered."