Is it possible to avoid the entire probate process? Probate is the process of having your Will recognized by the Court and having your wishes fulfilled following your death. It is the process where your debts are paid and your remaining assets are transferred to the people you have named in your Will.
Create a Trust
One way to avoid probate is by creating a revocable living trust. Once you transfer your assets to the trust and they aren’t under your name anymore, the assets won’t have to go through probate. Creating a trust to avoid probate can be very problematic if you do not get all of your assets transferred into the trust prior to your death. In that case, your estate may still have to go through probate even though you have the trust.
Another way is to designate beneficiaries on your accounts. Listing beneficiaries isn’t limited to life insurance and retirement plans. You can list beneficiaries on your financial accounts, such as your bank and investment accounts, so that the money goes straight to the beneficiary after death, without going through probate. This is also known as pay on death accounts. In some states, you can do this on real estate and vehicle registrations as well.
Join Tenancy Arrangements
If you co-own real estate with your spouse or someone else, you can execute a joint tenancy deed that results in the property transferring automatically upon death to the surviving spouse or co-owner. When you do this, the property transfers directly and avoids probate.
Give It Away
Of course, you can always just give your property as a gift before you pass away. This obviously is not an option for everything, and you may have to pay taxes on your gifts. However, many estate plans can include gifts during life to reduce someone’s estate prior to death.
For more help with estate planning, contact us today!