Creating a will is an easy way to establish what you want to happen to your estate when you pass away. It outlines who is to receive which items, lets you make plans for your funeral, and gives you a way to convey your wishes to your loved ones. This will is enforceable and can remove some of the uncertainty that your loved ones may experience when you pass away. Though there are several types of wills, most people choose to work with either a simple will or a living will, and many do so in the hopes that it will help their loved ones avoid going through probate when they pass away. So, does a living will help you avoid probate? Here’s what your California estate planning attorney wants you to know.

living will avoid probate

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a legal document that explains what you want to happen leading up to your death. It outlines your preferences for medical care and makes plans for the actions you want your loved ones to take on your behalf if you’re unable to make those decisions yourself. It does not make arrangements for the distribution of your assets.

Does a Living Will Help You Avoid Probate?

Since a living will doesn’t outline how you want your assets handled, it technically won’t force your loved ones to go through probate. But if you use a simple will to explain how you want your assets and estate handled, your estate will still go through probate. 

And since probate takes a long time, it can quickly add up for your loved ones. Remember, the executor of your estate (the person who oversees the distribution of assets) receives a fee based on the size of your estate. The larger your estate is, the more they’ll receive and that amount can come directly out of what you want your loved ones to inherit.

How to Help Your Loved Ones Avoid Probate

If you’re looking to avoid probate, there are some steps that you can take. Each one works in different ways, so it’s best to speak with an experienced California estate planning attorney to choose the right method for your goals. Here are a few options you can consider:

  • Living trusts: A living trust outlines how you want your property distributed and lets your loved ones and beneficiaries manage the estate rather than relying on an executor.
  • Joint ownership: If you’re trying to leave your spouse a piece of property, consider making them a joint owner of the property. This lets them inherit full ownership rights if you pass away.
  • Transfer-on-death registration: Transfer-on-death registrations, often referred to as TODs, transfer ownership of property to your designated beneficiary immediately after you pass away without forcing your loved one to wait for an executor to make the necessary arrangements.

These methods can help your loved ones avoid probate, but you’ll want to work with an attorney to get them set up.

An Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney Can Help

If you’re looking for ways to streamline the inheritance process for your loved ones, make an appointment with an experienced California estate planning attorney as soon as possible. At Jackman Law, our team will help you create a clear plan that keeps your loved ones’ interests in mind. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.