Does My Will Avoid Probate?

Some clients askĀ if a will can help them avoid probate. The answer is no.

Instead, think of a will as an instruction manual for probating your estate. For most people, that involves three things:

  • Nominating the administrator of your estate (called the Personal Representative).
  • Nominating guardians and conservators for your children.
  • Making gifts to your chosen beneficiaries.

The probate process is not particularly good for gifts needing long-term management, such as to young children, disabled persons, or spendthrifts.

Probate is still a public, court-supervised process when your estate is managed under a will. However, it allows you to set the most important rules in advance.

If you want to avoid probate, the best strategy is usually to create a living trust. The trustee manages your assets for you when you are disabled and after you have died. Trusts are almost always managed privately, and without court involvement.