Probate is a process that verifies that a will is accurate and inventories all of your possessions. These possessions are then distributed to heirs. The process is slow and your descendants will need to wait longer before they can receive the assets that they are entitled to. Probate will occur regardless of how large your estate is. However, if you would like to avoid probate, there are strategies that an estate planning lawyer might encourage you to use.

A Will Does Not Prevent Probate

A will can make it more likely that probate will happen because the court will need to prove that the will is valid. The only exception is if you use the beneficiary distinction for all assets in the estate. An estate planning lawyer can give you other ideas for how to avoid probate instead. 

Beneficiary Distinctions

There are various types of accounts, including retirement accounts, that can be set up with beneficiary distinctions. This includes bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts. You can set up these distinctions so that the asset transfers on death. Then, the beneficiary will simply need to provide proof that you have passed away before the assets can be transferred. 

Revocable Trusts

One of the best ways to avoid probate is to create a revocable living trust. You will be able to transfer all your assets to a trust in a process known as "funding a trust." Once you have done this, you will be able to have the assets distributed based on the guidelines you set forth in the trust rather than through the process of probate. 

The advantage of this approach is that the process will be much faster and requires fewer steps. If you instead allow the estate to go through probate, the process will be so complicated that each of the beneficiaries might need to hire a lawyer. The lawyers hired by each beneficiary will be more expensive than simply hiring a lawyer to help you avoid probate in the first place.

With probate, you will also need to involve an executor. This will come with additional costs. There is also a risk that the courts might not distribute your assets in the manner in which you intend. When you speak to an estate planning lawyer, you will be able to explain exactly what you want done with your assets, and your attorney can guide you to the best options from a legal standpoint. Contact an estate planning lawyer to learn more.