Q: Is there ever a reason you'd go through probate if a will exists?
A: A: Yes; in fact, there may be a duty for a person who has control of a will of someone who has died to deliver it to either the Personal Representative named in the will or the Probate Court in the county in which the person died (18-A M.R.S.A. Sec. 2-902). A will simply lets people know how the testator wanted their probate property distributed after his or her death; it does not help the heirs avoid probate. Probate can be avoided in a few ways. You could change the title on all of your property to joint ownership – or, for real estate, "joint tenancy" – such that the property becomes the joint owners’ automatically upon your death. You could also set up a trust during your lifetime and transfer title to all your property to the trustee of the trust. The trustee could then make distributions of the trust property without putting it through probate. But a will definitely does not protect against having to “go through probate.”
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