A very common misconception is that probate is to be avoided at all costs. While the probate process in some states can be long and arduous, probate in New York, if handled by a competent attorney, is usually quite simple. One advantage of going through probate is that the Courts oversees the process, to some extent, and so it forces the parties involved to do the right thing. Having a will which goes through probate also allows the easy creation of trusts for minor children and it can provide for the distribution of assets in the event of the death of a beneficiary.
If one desires to avoid probate, preparing a revocable living trust is one option. Another option is to make sure that all of one’s liquid assets have beneficiaries listed on them, so that at death the assets will pass directly to the beneficiaries without court intervention. Clearly, this can not be done with real property. One should take care, however, in naming beneficiaries, to make sure they are all competent adults. One should never list minor children as beneficiaries, as that causes a good deal of legal complications. Moreover, problems are created when a beneficiary listed on an account predeceases the owner.