People will often go to great lengths to make sure that their estates do not have to go through probate. They often fail to take little steps and find themselves in probate unnecessarily for other reasons.
Probate is often thought of as something that happens after a person passes away. If a person has not planned to avoid probate, then the estate must go through probate for administration before any assets can be distributed to heirs. What many people do not realize, is that probate courts handle more things than just wills.
Consider the case of one elderly couple in Arizona. The wife suffers from dementia. She had a modest retirement account of $25,000. Her husband wanted to withdraw funds from the account to pay her medical bills. Before he could do that, he had to go through probate court to be appointed his wife's guardian and conservator. In the process, he incurred $6,000 in attorney's fees as WLTX19 reports in "Man spends thousands in probate costs to help wife with dementia."
This unfortunate situation can often be avoided. Estate planning attorneys do more than just help their clients' estates avoid probate, after the clients pass away. They also help people plan for end-of-life care and what will happen should they ever become incapacitated and can no longer look after their own affairs.
If you have not planned for this, then visit an estate planning attorney and ask about a general durable power of attorney. That document will let you appoint someone to look after your finances, if you become unable to do so.
Reference: WLTX19 (Feb. 15, 2018) "Man spends thousands in probate costs to help wife with dementia."