Will a will or trust avoid probate?


A will does not avoid probate. A will simply directs what happens to your assets when they go through probate. A trust CAN avoid probate, but ONLY if your assets are owned by your trust.


Attorney Tom Olsen: Chrissy, that is our goal when we meet with people. Our goal is to make things simple, easy, inexpensive for their kids when they pass away. What that means is if our client does some work, is proactive about getting things done, taking care of the homework list that we give them, you and I do some work, we can easily accomplish that goal.

Attorney Chrissy Merrill: Absolutely. Two things on that, too, Tom. One is based on Christie's situation. One of the things Christie could do with her dad, and knowing that obviously it sounds like her dad is very meticulous about making sure he takes care of everything. She would actually say, "Dad, that's great that you have the trust, and have you double check to make sure that everything is either owned by the trust or the trust is beneficiary." Even without her seeing it, she can actually pose that question to her dad. Her dad, obviously, if he has any concerns, he can start to deal with it. That would immediately prompt him to say, "Possibly, Christie, Oh yes, I know I have done everything and funded the trust properly."

Attorney Tom Olsen: That's a common issue that we run into with people who have done trust for many years ago, and they have this false sense of security that I spent all this money, as Christie said, on a five-inch notebook of documents. Yet, when you sign a trust that as though you have built an empty vault or an empty safe, and you must then fill it up with your assets. If you don't put your assets into the trust, then you have wasted your time and money with the trust. We can do trust for people. There are certain situations where living trust is the right tool, but we focus on simple tools to avoid probate so they can avoid this five-inch notebook for his worth of paper.

Chrissy, what's kind of fun, I had a client yesterday, and they came in, and we had done estate planning for their granddad. We use simple tools for him. We said look, he had two properties. We did two ladybird deeds, so that when he passed away, these properties automatically pass to the granddaughters, no probate required. We sent him home with homework that said, "Make all your bank accounts POD, payable on debt, to your granddaughters. The granddaughters came and see me yesterday, and they said, "Tom, what do we do?" They had like this huge weight on their shoulders like it's going to be time and expensive, legal, complicated and everything. What do we need to do? We need to record his death certificate in the public records and you're done.

Attorney Chrissy Merrill: They were very pleasantly surprised I'm sure.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes. It can be that simple, folks. We're talking about it with a little--

Attorney Chrissy Merrill: A little preparation on their end, and our end, and working together. It can be that simple.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes, that's simple. We would love to help you out with your estate plan, folks. By the way, Chrissy and I do offer a free initial consult. Call us at the Olsen Law Group in Orlando at 407-423-5561

Attorney Chrissy Merrill: Also, just to add to Tom, what you're saying is, oftentimes, too, we are able to speak with people over the phone before you make that appointment for the free consult. We can gather some information. We can then, over the phone, give you a general idea of pricing based upon some questions that we asked to you specifically.

Attorney Tom Olsen: That's fair enough, yes. We got to know something about what's going on before when quote fees for you. By the way, Chrissy, there are people out there listening to us right now. They're going to say, "Tom, hey, a few years ago I went to an attorney. I paid him thousands of dollars to do a living trust. Tom, a few years ago I went to an attorney. I paid a thousand dollars having wills done." We're all done. We're set. We don't need anything. Why are you talking about this? We're saying folks that may not be enough. Again, simply having a will does not avoid probate. A will simply directs what happens to your assets when they go through probate.

Attorney Chrissy Merrill: Exactly.

Attorney Tom Olsen: With us offering you a free initial consult, yes. You've got a will or trust? Great. Bring it with you. We'll review it with you. We'll review the entire estate plan, what's going on with you. Again, our goal would make things simple, easy, inexpensive for you when you pass away. Chrissy and I offer a free initial consult at the Olsen Law Group at 407-423-5561.