It’s an often-asked question, but to those of us in probate, it’s an  age-old question. Does a will avoid probate? The answer to this question is no, a will does not clear way. A will is a document that guides you through the probate process. The only way to avoid probate is if there were no assets in your individual name or if you set up transfer on death beneficiaries. Let’s break this down some more and see what ways this can be accomplished.

Let’s say that you have appropriately funded all your assets into a revocable living trust. By doing this, you’re able to assure yourself that you can stay clear of probate. As far as property goes, a house can evade the process if it is owned jointly with rights of survivorship. Therefore, when one owner passes away, the other one will inherit the house, thus avoiding probate. When it comes to something such as a life insurance policy, you can avoid the process of probate if the policy has a named beneficiary.

As you’ve read, there are ways in which you can avoid the probate process, but not because of a will. Rather, you can avoid probate by carefully managing your assets such as money, houses and insurance to where there are no assets solely under your name or without beneficiaries.

In the State of Michigan, if any assets are solely in your name when you pass  your will and the statutes in Michigan will dictate how the assets are distributed to devisees. So, while the will can’t avoid probate, it can guide the probate process as to how assets are to be distributed. With no will, the statutes will determine the distribution of the assets.

Darren Findling explains more about the importance of estate planning and why you plan a will and a trust at the same time.

If you’re looking to make sure that you avoid probate, The Probate Pro can help you put together an estate plan. Together, we can create a will that dictates how your assets are distributed and direct you on how to avoid the process altogether. Give us a call today at (877)-YOUR-FIRM and we’ll be ready to help you.