Q I have a will. That means my family avoids probate upon my passing right?
Wrong! This is one of the biggest misunderstandings I see. If you have a will, your estate will still need to go through the probate process. That being said, you obtain some key advantages by having a written will. In the absence of a written estate plan, the Court decides everything about your estate: Who the personal representative is; Who receives your assets; Who the guardian is of your minor children; and When they receive those assets. When you do a properly prepared will, you get to determine ahead of time who you would want as your personal representative, who the guardian of your minor children should be, who you want to receive your assets, when you want them to receive those assets, as well as any restrictions and protections you want to place on receipt of those assets. This is particularly important when you have minor children.
Your estate will still go through the probate process which means it will still take 12-16 months, cost 3%-5% of the gross estate and be completely public. However, you get the advantage of assuring your wishes are followed and not leaving everything up to the Court.