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[[In my state, when you die a probate estate must be opened. Even if there aren't
any assets in the estate. Probate means, I think, to prove the will. That holds true
whether the proving is of the state's default will for you, or the substitute one you
have executed. So titling assets in the name of a living trust will not obviate the
necessity of opening probate. It will only make the probate process much
simpler, much quicker and much less expensive.]]

In the western states, it's completely different. Assets transferred via trust can completely escape any type of probate. Nothing must be filed with the court, and no proceedings are required to be opened. No fees, no expenses, no nothing.

The biggest problem that I see, in many cases, is where a person creates the trust, but then doesn't receive the help to transfer the friggin' assets into the trust. If THAT is the case, and the trust is not the named owner of the assets, then a probate must be opened in order to administrate the will...which is generally nothing more than a "pour over" will, and all of the assets go to the trust anyway.

But this little venture into probate is time consuming and expensive. In my practice, I take care of all of the title transfers immediatly after the trust(s) are executed, and we pound into the client's head that all future assets must be titled to the trust.

We have a mandatory annual review with each of our estate clients, so at least things can't get too far out of hand if they decide to purchase assets and not name them in the trust.

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