Some people mistakenly think that not having a will allows their probate assets to bypass the time and expense of probate. That is not true. Probate assets are those assets with no surviving joint owner, designated beneficiary, or are not titled in a revocable living trust.
If you die without a will, your probate property still must go through probate, says Fed Week’s article entitled “Expressing Your Will with a Will.”
Therefore, you should have a will to express who you want to be in charge of your affairs and direct where you what your property to go upon your passing.
If probate avoidance is a concern, you can ask an experienced estate planning attorney about utilizing various non-probate transfer methods, which may include creating a trust. If you have a revocable living trust, you can keep control over the trust assets while you are alive. The assets placed in revocable living trust during your lifetime can be distributed at your death, under the terms of the trust, without the requirement of probate.
When you draft a will, you cannot simply forget about it. Special life events, such as births, adoptions, deaths, marriages, and divorces, all may require you to revisit your will. After each change, make certain that your current will is both safe and accessible. If you decide to keep your will somewhere else, your executor and other loved ones should know that location.
Regardless of where you put your will, you should create a separate document for your funeral and burial instructions. That is because wills typically are not read until days or weeks after death. Therefore, a will does not help your survivors make prompt decisions about a funeral or a memorial service.
When deciding whether you need a will, remember that wills are important documents that offer instructions to your loved ones when you are no longer here to express them. Be sure to consult with a knowledgeable attorney as it is important to have a properly prepared and executed document. If you miss an important step, you may not have things planned as you thought.
Reference: Fed Week (Feb. 22, 2022) “Expressing Your Will with a Will”