Avoiding Probate Court: Tips To Make Things Easier On Loved Ones

August 6th, 2020

We have all heard terrible stories about the probate process. A disgruntled heir. A greedy beneficiary. A minor child or incapacitated person being under court supervision for years. Even the simplest probate cases can be a big pain for your family. Especially when a loved one didn’t make a will before he or she passed away, or failed to keep the will current.

But there are great ways to avoid probate and the hardships it can bring. Planning can make a huge difference when it comes to making things easier for loved ones left behind. But even with a will, your assets will need to go through probate, costing time and money, to settle your estate. It can cause lots of frustration and unnecessary conflict while trying to deal with all of the emotions that come with the death of a loved one.

But, did you know you can actually plan to avoid probate court, and make things even easier? It IS possible. Here are a few ways to keep your assets from going through probate.

  1. Revocable Living Trust. A Revocable Living Trust is one of the best ways to avoid probate court. Property titles and other assets will be transferred to the trust. While you are alive, you control the property. When you die, a person you designate as the successor trustee, will ensure the property is transferred to your designated beneficiaries without going through probate.
  1. Beneficiary Designations.You can also avoid probate by naming beneficiaries or pay-on-death recipients on your accounts. This includes bank accounts, IRAs, and similar accounts. It is fairly easy to get done by contacting your financial institution. When you die, all your money is transferred to that beneficiary without going through probate. This method is not without pitfalls, especially if you have minor children or incapacitated beneficiaries, so it is important to consult with an attorney.
  2. Establish Joint Ownership
    If you jointly own property with someone, that property is automatically given to the surviving owner. You can establish joint ownership in several ways: through a deed, business owner agreement, or jointly held financial assets. When you die, the property or money belongs to the surviving owner without any limitations.
  3. Gifting Property During LifeYou may have assets that you want to give away during life. While this approach avoids probate, it also can subject you to tax consequences, loss of public benefits, and unnecessary exposure of your hard earned assets. Gifting during life is an advance planning technique that should be undertaken carefully in a comprehensive estate plan.

What better gift to your family than to provide a straightforward, thoughtful process for them to follow after you’re gone?