A Word of Caution: A Will-Based Estate Plan Must Be Administered Through Probate Court

We have worked with several clients over the past year who believed that using a Last Will and Testament to plan their estates avoids probate. Maybe there is a website, article, or video that led them to this conclusion. I don’t know the origin of that myth. But it is a myth. A Last Will and Testament may particularly describe exactly what you want to happen to your property and who is to be in charge. However, a Last Will and Testament has no effect at anytime during your lifetime or after your death until it has been admitted into a probate court case by the Probate Court and the Probate Court has issued Letters of Authority to your personal representative to authorize the actions described in the Last Will and Testament. Until the Letters of Authority have been issued, the personal representative named in your will has no power or authority to take any action. What that means is a Last Will and Testament will assure that your probate property will be administered through the Probate Court process at the time of your death.