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In order to avoid probate, you can use a trust, and put all your assets into that trust, a bothersome and rather expensive process.

I keep hearing this as an argument against trusts and have to weigh in with opposing experience. After administering my parents' estates through their trust, coming in under $200 in attorney's fees, start-to-finish of less than 3 months, and zero court appearances by anyone, I compared the experience to administering a friend's will in probate to the tune of more than $4,000 in attorney's fees and about 8 months duration. Both cases were pretty simple--a house and a car and some investments and the household goods. Note: since so much depends on state law and procedures, I should note that my parents died in Kansas and my friend in Illinois--Cook County to boot.

It cost me less than $300 total to get all my paperwork (will, living will, durable PoA and trust agreement) and to fund the trust, including retitling my assets. It was also very easy to take care of the details.

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