How Can I Avoid Probate?

How to Avoid Probate

Wills or Revocable Living Trusts

In simplest terms, Wills require probate, whereas revocable living trusts—when properly funded— avoid the probate process. Wills can be robust documents containing tax saving and asset protection strategies. However, wills memorialize the testator’s instructions for distributing assets at death only. Wills—absent the availability of a summary/small estate affidavit—require probate.

Revocable living trusts, on the other hand, become effective immediately upon creation and are vehicles for the management of assets of the trust creator (also called the settlor or grantor) during his or her lifetime, including during periods of incapacity and at death. Revocable living trusts also make it easier to distribute assets without court involvement at death. A trust can avoid probate when it owns all of the decedent’s assets or is otherwise the recipient of the assets upon his or her death using other probate-avoidance tools such as those discussed below. 

When a decedent's trust does not own all, or become the recipient of, a Grantor’s assets at his or her assets at death, pour-over will is used to funnel any probate assets into the trust. Pour-over wills should be intended as a backup strategy.

Learn more about Revocable Living Trusts by downloading our Free Report, "Understanding the Basics of Revocable Living Trusts in Missouri."