Does a will equal probate?

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Probate is simply the state court procedure required by law where the court that has jurisdiction administers your estate after your death whether or not you had a will. The court first decides if your will is valid. It then apportions your estate according to your wishes as designated by your will. Most persons prefer to avoid the probate process altogether. There are various ways to avoid probate, or at least keep the process and costs to a minimum. This is done simply by placing your assets in a form of ownership that will not be distributed by your will, or in a form that will not go to your heirs if you have no will. Some of these probate-avoiding options are: placing your assets in a revocable trust, irrevocable trust, or living trust; having a named successor beneficiary on your annuities, your life insurance policy, and your pension; owning a life estate and remainder; and owning property jointly with the right of survivorship. Any remaining assets that are owned by you alone are the only assets that will then be subject to your will and possible probate.

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