Does a Living Trust Help You Avoid Probate?

Creating a will that outlines your wishes concerning the division of your assets after you are gone can help your family understand how to handle the disbursement, but what happens when there is a disagreement among your heirs? Such arguments can lead to probate court, where the question of which heirs have the better claim may drag on for months.

You may believe that creating a living trust as well as a will may help you avoid probate; however, according to the American Bar Association, such a document may not completely eliminatethe need for probate, so understanding the exceptions may help you decide whether you need one or both documents.


While some wills may not require probate, one action that causes this requirement most often is claims by heirs who believe they have some claim to your property or assets, even if they were not specifically mentioned in the document. A variety of individuals may bring forth these claims, such as:

  • Children from a previous marriage
  • Common-law ex-spouses
  • Those who owned joint property with you

While moving property to a living trust may eliminate the need for probate, Questions pertaining to your assets may still arise after your death and require this process to fully process their disbursement.


While a living trust may allow your heirs to avoid probate, many jurisdictions have their own laws about the transfer of funds, and some actions may come with attached fees. In some cases, probate may cost less than these services.

Your heirs may still require probate court if some assets from your will were not moved to the trust during your lifetime. This process may assist your relatives with more rapid disbursement and help avoid disputes that may stall the transfer of any bequeathments.