Often cited as a key reason for establishing a trust, avoiding probate can mean substantial savings in time, legal fees and paperwork. If your assets and property are to be distributed according to your will, probate is the process by which a judge determines the will's validity. A trust allows your descendants to bypass this process and gain access to the assets and property more quickly. Plus, your family can avoid probate fees, which can be as much as 5 percent of the value your estate [source: Nolo.com]. The probate process is also a long one, and can take up to a year or even two to finalize, during which time your family can't touch their inheritance [source: Nolo.com]. In some states, however, the courts allow beneficiaries a certain amount of money for living expenses while they wait for their inheritance to become available.