Don’t Be Fooled: The Most Common Mistake People Make About Wills

When it comes to sorting out your affairs for after you’re gone, there’s a big misconception that having a Will means you dodge the probate process. But hold on a second—let’s debunk this myth and get real about what having a Will actually means.

So, what’s the deal with Wills and probate? Well, first off, let’s get something straight: having a Will doesn’t mean you’re skipping probate. Nope, not at all. In fact, having a Will pretty much guarantees probate if you have assets that need to be distributed by your Will.

The confusion often arises from comparing having a Will versus not having one at all (also known as dying intestate). When you kick the bucket without a Will, your estate goes through probate, and the state decides who gets what. And let’s be honest—that’s not ideal. It can lead to all sorts of headaches and family drama.

So, naturally, people think, “Hey, having a Will is better than nothing, right?” Well, yes and no. Having a Will means you get to call the shots on who gets your stuff, which is definitely a plus. But here’s the kicker: your estate still has to go through probate, regardless of whether you have a Will or not.

Probate is basically the legal process of sorting out your estate after you kick the bucket. The court makes sure your debts are paid off and your assets are divvied up according to your wishes (as outlined in your Will) or state law (if you don’t have a Will). So yeah, having a Will doesn’t mean you’re avoiding probate—it just means the court has a roadmap to follow.

But why does this misconception persist? Well, for starters, a lot of folks aren’t familiar with how probate works. Estate planning can be confusing, and many people just go with what they’ve heard without really understanding the ins and outs. Plus, nobody wants to burden their loved ones with more stress after they’re gone, so the idea of avoiding probate altogether is pretty appealing.

But here’s the thing: while having a Will is definitely a good idea, it’s not a magic bullet for skipping probate. Instead, it’s more like a way to ensure your wishes are carried out after you’re gone. And there are other estate planning strategies, like setting up trusts or joint ownership, that can help minimize the impact of probate on your estate.

So, let’s set the record straight: having a Will doesn’t mean you’re dodging probate—it just means you’re giving the court a heads up on how you want things to go down. By understanding the role of Wills in the probate process, you can make more informed decisions about your estate planning and ensure your loved ones are taken care of when you’re no longer around.