"How do I avoid probate?" "Why should I avoid probate?"
I get asked questions like this all the time. Many people have heard that avoiding probate is a good thing, but they aren't sure how and why.
The how is relatively easy...create a Trust based estate plan. By having a properly funded trust, your estate will not require a probate.
One of the most common questions I get about estate planning is "What's the difference between a Trust and a Will?"
Trusts and Wills are documents that you create during your life that direct who your assets go to after you pass away. The main difference is that a Trust works during you life and a Will only works after you've passed away, its submitted to probate, and the probate court accepts it.
To those of you that already have a Revocable Living Trust as part of your estate plan, congratulations! However, did you fund that trust. Over the past several months I have worked with a number of families to amend their existing trust only to find that they were never funded in the first place.
I was reminded of this when speaking with a client this past week. They told me of a time when their child was away at college and ended up in an emergency room. The hospital and doctors were very reluctant to share any information about the child's condition. Their reluctance was for good reason...it was against the law to share the information without the patient's consent. Thankfully everything worked out for this family.