My Husband Has a Will. That Means I Don't Have to Probate, Right?
April 4, 2022
A Will prepares you for a probate, but it doesn't avoid the need to do that probate. In order to transfer title to real property and access many financial accounts, the Will must be probated. In order for a Will to be effective, it must be probated within 4 years from the date of death. This allows the Court to decide that the Will you give them is valid and the actual last Will of your husband. If you don't probate within 4 years, you may be stuck with the Rules of Intestate Succession instead of the terms of the Will. Those rules are often undesirable, especially in a blended family. If your husband left you everything in his Will, but you don't probate within 4 years, his children from a previous marriage can end up with most of his estate.
If you do pre-planning, it may be possible to avoid the need for probate entirely. This can be done through the use of Lady Bird deeds or Transfer on Death deeds for real property and beneficiary designations or Right of Survivorship agreements on all other assets. It can also be done through the use of properly set up trusts. However, this isn't right for everyone, so be sure to get good legal advice about whether probate avoidance is right in pre-planning and be sure to probate the Will if your husband has already passed.