How to Avoid Probate

Estate Planning

Probate is the process of verifying your will, assets, and the distribution of your estate through the court system. It can be an expensive and time consuming process. That being said, there are ways that you can avoid assets going through the probate process thus saving your loved ones time and money. 

To effectively navigate around the probate process, you need an attorney with specialized knowledge about estate planning. Here at Unique Estate Law, we have the experience and legal skill set that make for highly effective estate planning counsel. Unique Estate Law prides itself in designing customized estate plans for every single client.

How to Avoid Probate

There are several ways to avoid probate and some are more complicated than others. One of the simpler things to do to avoid probate is to first consider things such as your bank accounts where you can add a pay on death designation. Make sure that you have listed beneficiaries on things such as your retirement and investment accounts. Life insurance policies, pension plans, 401k plans, IRA accounts, stocks and bonds (all payable on death accounts). Request and Fill out the required forms. These assets will pass directly to the named beneficiary without needing to go through probate.

There are also several forms of joint property ownership arrangements that, when one owner dies, will automatically pass to the remaining owner. For example, with property owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, when one of the property owner passes away, his or her property interest will automatically transfer to the surviving owner. No probate necessary.

There is also the living trust to consider as an effective way to avoid probate. Much like a will, a living trust can be used to distribute your property and assets to your heirs, but it allows all of this to pass outside of probate. This is because, technically, the assets were already distributed to the trust and, thus they would not need to be distributed through probate proceedings. To set up a trust, you place your assets and property in the trust, make sure that any titles are officially transferred so that the trust owns them and not you personally. The contents of the trust are managed by a trustee, either you during your lifetime or another named trustee, and held for the benefit of your beneficiaries, which would be your heirs. After your death, the trustee will distribute the assets that have been transferred into the trust to the named beneficiaries. 

Also, you always have the option of gifting property before you pass away. Property that is no longer yours will not be subject to probate after you die. If there is a car you own and you already know who you want to have it after you pass away, consider giving it as a gift prior to your death. You are able to give up to $14,000 in tax-free gifts within a calendar year. Gifting away assets can reduce the amount of assets that will have to pass through probate. The higher the monetary value of assets that go through probate, the greater the expense.