In this Elder Law and Estate Planning Minute, Wes Coulson, Southern Illinois Elder Law attorney, discusses why a will isn’t the best way to protect your estate from going into probate and that the better option is having a living trust.
Does a Will Keep Me Out of Probate?
Hi, I’m Wes Coulson from Dent-Coulson Elder Law in O’Fallon, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri and this is your Elder Law and Estate Planning Minute. Today I want to address a very, very common question and a very, very common misconception about wills and that is whether having a will keeps you out of probate.
I have so many instances in which people are shocked to hear that having a will keeps them out of probate. It absolutely does not. The only way with a will that you would avoid probate would be if you qualify for what’s called small estate treatment. In Illinois less than $100,000, no real estate, no court proceedings just something out of court. In Missouri less than $40,000 and it does require an abbreviated court proceeding. Other than that, if you have a will your estate’s going to go through probate.
Now, I’ll tell you the one thing that is correct about that is that you really don’t want to go through probate for a bunch of reasons. First of all, it’s expensive. Second of all, it’s time consuming, it delays things. Third of all, things that are filed as a matter of public record in any probate proceeding, an inventory so that anybody in the world, including scammers, can see how much money is passing hands, and a copy of the will so they can see who is coming into that money. So, not the kind of things that you really would want to make public.
So, how do you avoid probate? That’s pretty simple, you need a living trust. So, if you have any kind of estate value at all and you come to see me, I’ll prepare a will if you insist on it, but if you ask me which is the better way of going about things, I’m going to tell you I recommend a living trust. Thanks.
For more information on estate planning, visit these articles:
- Wills, Living Trusts and Powers of Attorney: How Often Should They Be Updated?
- Is Adding Someone’s Name To Accounts An Okay Substitute For A Power Of Attorney For Property?
- Why A Healthcare Power Of Attorney Is Better Than A Living Will
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Dent-Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Dent-Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (877)995-6876 or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.