Estate Planning begins with a will or a living trust. A will provides your instructions as to who will receive your assets (beneficiaries), but it does not avoid probate. Any assets titled in your name or directed by your will (if the total value exceeds $100,000.00 in Illinois) must go through the probate process before they can be distributed to your beneficiaries. The process can become expensive with legal fees, executor fees, and court costs. It can also take anywhere from nine months to two years or longer.