By Jedidiah McKeehan

A legal term that many people have heard of is the term, “probate.”  Probate is the process whereby a will of someone who has passed is filed with the court and the court oversees the process of making sure that all of the instructions in someone’s will are followed.  The process of carrying out someone’s instructions in a will is called the “administration” of the estate.  What is someone’s estate?  An estate is simply a person’s possessions.

The big problem with the probate process is that many people have no idea what they are doing in administering someone’s estate.  This is something that they may only do once or twice in their life, and can be a difficult process to navigate if you do not have an attorney to help you.

One thing that many people do is try to do everything they can to avoid the probate process.  How can this be done?  The easiest way to do this is if you start giving away your possession prior to death.  If you give away your house, your vehicles, and your money, then there is no estate that needs to be probated.

But what if you do not want to give away your possessions prior death?  Well you can have your possessions jointly owned.  You can put a child on a bank account with you.  If you do this, that asset will go directly to the joint owner upon your passing instead of being considered an item that needs to be probated.

A final option that many people use is a trust.  They will put their items in a trust.  If a trust owns possessions instead of them then there will not be a probating of an estate because a trust is not a person who can die.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.