Preserving one’s legacy and ensuring their assets are distributed in the manner they want are often the driving force for Pennsylvania residents to draft wills. Having completed the task, they most likely don’t give it another thought, and very likely do not utilize other estate planning tools. What many fail to realize is that their will might get tangled in probate for a long time, tying up the estate and resulting in legal fees. It is possible, however, to protect loved ones from probate, if proper estate planning is carried out.

One of the most comprehensive ways to avoid probate is by setting up a living trust. A living trust has three parties-the person setting up the trust, known as the grantor, the person who manages the trust, known as the trustee, and the person for whom the trust is established, known as the beneficiary. To avoid probate, all three parties would have to be the same person. Therefore, as grantor, one would set up the trust and transfer all assets into it; as a trustee, they would handle the property; and as a beneficiary, they could continue to use the property.

A living trust would also have a successor beneficiary, who would take over the trust when the grantor passes away and distribute the assets according to the grantor’s wishes. The estate is protected from probate because the assets do not belong to the beneficiary. The trust owns everything-the beneficiary is only using it. if a person owns nothing when they die, then nothing can go through probate.

There are also other ways to avoid probate and ensure one’s estate goes to the people they want. An experienced estate planning and probate attorney can help guide individuals through the process and help them achieve the goals they are aiming for.