Probate can be a long and tedious process. Like any legal procedure, the probate process can take months to complete. For this reason, many people take specific steps to avoid the probate process.
If you are planning your estate, there are several steps you can take now to help your loved ones avoid the probate process. Let’s explore!
How Can I Avoid the Probate Process?
Talk to your probate attorney to see what you can do now to help your loved ones avoid the probate process in the future. Here are some ways to avoid probate:
Trusts are legal entities that assign a third party to manage your assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. While there are several types of trusts that can be created, a living trust allows you to avoid the probate process.
A living trust is similar to most other trusts, except for one significant difference. The trustor is alive when they make the agreement. This allows you to benefit from the trust while you’re alive but still passes your assets to your beneficiary when you pass away. How does this help avoid the probate process?
Essentially, a living trust is similar to a will. Still, you don’t need to wait for a probate judge to distribute the assets. A living trust names a specific trustee to manage and divide your assets. Your trustee will also pay all debts and handle your funeral costs. Living wills can be either revocable or irrevocable. Talk to your probate attorney to see if a living will is a suitable choice for your estate.
Joint Property Ownership
Joint property ownership is exactly as it sounds. This is most common with married couples, but there are two types of joint property ownership. The first is joint tenancy. This means that if one owner passes away, the other will inherit the property without going through the probate process.
On the other hand, joint ownership is community property with the right to survivorship. To avoid probate with joint ownership, you need to be sure that your legal documents include the term “right to survivorship.” This will automatically pass the property to the surviving owner when the other dies.
In some states, you can simply avoid probate by naming beneficiaries on accounts that allow asset protection. This is a good option for individuals who don’t have enough assets for a living trust. Several accounts allow you to name a beneficiary and assign assets to be “payable on death” or “transferred upon death.” These include:
- Bank accounts
- Retirement plans
- 401k plans
- IRA accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Life insurance policies
- Pension plans
- Real estate ownership
Since probate law varies from state to state, talk to your probate attorney to determine whether opening any of these accounts can help you avoid the probate process.
Discuss Your Estate with an Experienced Probate Attorney for the Best Results
If you want to avoid probate and ensure your loved ones get your assets without hassle, it’s important to talk to a probate attorney. For all your Lancaster probate needs, trust Derryberry & Associates to help. Call today for your free consultation!