A Will Does Not Avoid Probate
Almost everyone I speak to thinks that because they have a will, the people that they care most about will not have to worry about the time and expense of probate.
Some attorneys do not think probate is so bad. Those are usually probate attorneys.
What is probate? When someone passes with more than $75,000 in assets (amount can change anytime) that do not have a beneficiary designated, a transfer on death designation, joint ownership, or if the assets are designated is in a will, the court must get involved. The executor you appointed in the will or if you didn't appoint one, the court will appoint one for you, will usually need to file an inventory of all your debts, your assets, your beneficiaries, etc. with the court. Each step usually requires judge approval. Your loved ones may not have access to their inheritance for months or sometimes over a year.
Your options vary based on your situation but you always have options. For example, if you own your home: Is joint tenancy best for you? Or a Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) that is revocable? Or would your best option be to keep a life estate and quit claim the deed to your home to your heirs? Or how about putting your home or cabin in a trust? While each of these can avoid probate, each has possible risks.
I'd be happy to help you with your will, trust, power of attorney, and/or health care directive.