As estate planning attorneys, one of the most common questions we’re often asked is, “How can I avoid probate?” Probate is the legal process of settling a deceased person’s estate, and it can be time-consuming and costly. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid probate and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
One of the most effective ways to avoid probate is to create a revocable living trust. A living trust is a legal entity that can hold your assets during your lifetime and distribute them after your death. You can transfer ownership of your assets to the trust, and as the trustee, you can continue to manage them as you did before. However, when you die, the trust’s successor trustee will take over and distribute the assets according to your instructions, without the need for probate.
Another way to avoid probate is to make sure that your assets are titled correctly. Certain types of property, such as jointly owned assets and assets with named beneficiaries, can pass directly to the intended recipient without going through probate. For example, if you own a house with your spouse, the property will automatically pass to your spouse upon your death, without the need for probate. Similarly, if you have a life insurance policy with a named beneficiary, the proceeds will go directly to the beneficiary.
Another option is to create payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designations for your bank accounts and other financial assets. This allows you to name a beneficiary who will automatically receive the assets upon your death. This avoids probate and ensures that your assets are distributed quickly and easily.
It’s also important to have a comprehensive estate plan in place, including a will and power of attorney documents. A will is a legal document that specifies how your assets should be distributed upon your death. It also allows you to name a guardian for any minor children and an executor to handle your estate. Power of attorney documents give someone else the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
In addition to avoiding probate, having an estate plan in place can also help minimize estate taxes and protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits.
There are several ways to avoid probate and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Creating a revocable living trust, titling assets correctly, using POD or TOD designations, and having a comprehensive estate plan in place are all effective strategies. If you have questions about estate planning or probate, it’s important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. Our team is here to help you navigate the complex legal landscape and create a plan that meets your unique needs and goals.
Contact our law office today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you with your estate planning needs. Our attorneys provide personalized, high-quality legal services and helping our clients achieve peace of mind for themselves and their loved ones.