The Plain English Legal Podcast

The Big Probate Lie

September 2, 2020

There is a pervasive lie about probate that many financial institutions tell their clients, and it is causing the beneficiaries and family members a lot of grief. And that lie is your stock account/bank account/mutual fund avoids probate because it is "beneficiary driven."

What most people consider the hassles of probate are NOT avoided by naming beneficiaries on these types of account, because 1) the account still needs to be listed on probate inventories, 2) often paperwork is still needed by the court from the financial institution to prove the account isn't part of probate, and 3) the same financial institutions that insist the account with their company avoids probate will often insist on paperwork from the probate court just to get the account transferred or paid out

What is making this lie worse is that our clients who use revocable living trusts to avoid probate are being told by their financial advisors and bankers "don't transfer the account into the trust like your attorney said; just change the beneficiaries on the account." This is actually the Unauthorized Practice of Law because this non-attorney has gone beyond explaining how the beneficiary designation feature on the account works and went into telling their client how to do their estate planning, in direct contravention to the attorney's legal advice. This could get the professional into a lot of trouble and cause big problems for their client's family and loved ones down the road.


To learn more about revocable living trusts and avoiding probate, please check out my free e-book Estate Planning Basics available at, and find other information, please check out the Linktree account at 

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