Many people try to plan ahead to avoid probate because it is costly, lengthy and public process. In other words, many people would prefer to create instruments that will avoid probate in order to save money, time and also maintain privacy.
There are several strategies you can implement to avoid probate. You can:
- Own property in joint tenancy which will allow the surviving tenant to inherit the decedent’s share.
- Create a living trust that allows you to control the property while you are living, and transfers the property to beneficiaries on your passing.
- Make sure that bank accounts, stocks and bonds contain “pay on death” or “transfer on death” designations that enable them to pass to named beneficiaries.
- Designate beneficiaries to obtain title to real estate and vehicles upon your death.
- Designate money left in individual retirement accounts, like IRA’s and 401(k)’s, to be left to beneficiaries.
- Designate life insurance proceeds to be payable to beneficiaries.
- You can also make gifts to your future heirs while you are still alive.
Forms and documents must be drafted and completed correctly in order to ensure that probate is avoided. The named beneficiaries must also survive you in order to stay out of probate court.
Note that for some people probate can be beneficial in the sense that it provides a cutoff for creditor’s claims against the estate
Contact Asset Law Firm, PLLC to discuss your estate planning questions. Evening and weekend appointments available.