A will is the backbone of every estate plan. I have discussed what a will does, however, knowing what a will doesn’t do is just as important. Many clients believe a will avoids probate and are surprised when they discover that a will must be submitted for probate. No one knows exactly where this misinformation began (likely a chain email from your Aunt Sue, Snopes has not addressed the issue...yet), but the reality is, having a will guarantees probate. However, while there are a few important things to know about probate, probate is nothing to fear. And, when compared to the intestacy process (not having a will at all), probate is like sipping margaritas on the swim deck of a yacht. With that in mind, here are a few important things to remember:
- A will is not private. In order to be effective, every will must be filed with the court, making the contents public information.
- A will does not address incapacity because a will is not a life document, it only becomes active after death.
- A will does not avoid probate. (Try our free Probate Calculator)
- A will only controls assets that you own solely in your individual name.
- A will does not protect your assets prior to your death.
- A will does not control: retirement accounts, pension plans, life insurance, annuities, or employee benefits.
If you already have a will in place then you’re ahead of the game. To learn more about protecting your family and your assets Click Here. You’ll also receive a free copy of my Ebook Six Things to Know Before Making a Will or Living Trust (2016 Edition).