Jun 2015

You Need More than a Will to Avoid Probate

Probate Avoidance Steps

A last will and testament is an incredibly important estate planning document that provides a firm foundation for your estate plan. Contrary to what many people believe, however, a will does not help a testator avoid probate. Fortunately, our estate planning attorneys can help you create an estate plan that achieves this goal.

So what does it take to avoid probate? The answer is not the same for everyone, which is why it’s critical to work closely with an estate planning attorney at law. That said, here are several documents and accounts you may need to ensure your estate does not have to pass through probate:


Assets held in a trust at the time of an individual’s death are considered the property of the trust – not the individual. As such, these assets aren’t included in the estate’s assets and don’t have to pass through probate. Because there are many types of trusts, it’s important to work with us to determine which one is right for your goals.

Jointly-Titled Assets

Assets held in co-ownership, such as real estate titled as “joint tenants with right of survivorship,” automatically transfer to the surviving co-owner upon the other co-owner’s death. Because these assets immediately transfer to the survivor (or survivors), they are not part of the probate estate.

Payable on Death & Transfer on Death Accounts

Also called POD and TOD accounts for short, payable on death and transfer on death accounts allow a beneficiary to automatically claim assets upon the account owner’s death without the need for probate. A common example of a POD account is a bank account. In Missouri, a property owner can also create a transfer-on-death deed that allows a named beneficiary to inherit real estate immediately upon the owner’s death.

Life Insurance

A life insurance policy has a named beneficiary that the account holder names before his or her death. When the account owner passes away, the life insurance money is paid directly to the beneficiary.

Springfield, Missouri Estate Planning Law Firm

At the Law Offices of Randy L. Smith, LLC, we help people create estate planning documents that provide peace of mind. Call today at (417) 841-2775 to speak to an experienced estate planning lawyer about your case.

This website has been prepared by The Law Office of Randy L. Smith, LLC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.