Probate is a lengthy and costly court procedure which is used to determine the distribution of assets of a deceased person in the event he or she does not have a trust. Contrary to popular belief, a Will does not avoid probate.
Some accounts can avoid probate providing a pay on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) account is established, and assuming the beneficiary is alive at the time of the account owner’s death.
Additionally, qualified retirement accounts and life insurance will avoid probate providing a beneficiary form is completed correctly and the beneficiary survives you. If the beneficiary form is not completed correctly, or the beneficiary does not survive you, probate may be inevitable depending on the value of the account.
If you own real property, or have assets exceeding $50,000 excluding retirement accounts, you may want to consider a trust as a means of passing your assets on to your loved ones without costly and lengthy court proceedings.