Thursday, January 30, 2014

How to Avoid Probate

As discussed in my previous post, probate can be a very difficult, complex, time consuming process.  The good news is, there are ways to avoid the probate process!  Here are a few ways to avoid the probate process.  Before doing any of the things listed below, I strongly suggest you consult with an attorney to fully plan your estate and ensure the best result for you personally.

Living Trusts: A living trust is a document that creates an entity that owns your property.  In it, you name the trustee (the person who controls the property in the trust) and the beneficiary (the person who gets to use the property for their benefit).  The trustee and beneficiary can change throughout time and upon certain acts, such as your death.  You can use a trust to hold your property for your benefit while you are alive, and for your relatives benefit after you are deceased.  Property held in trust in this way does not go through the probate process as it is owned by the trust and not a part of your "estate".

Deeds and Titles of Ownership:  You can also avoid probate with some property by titling it in a manner that allows it to automatically transfer to a certain person upon your death, rather than go through the probate process to have that ownership transfer.  This can be done with property such as automobiles, real estate, etc.

Joint Bank Accounts:  You can avoid putting your funds held in bank accounts through the probate process by putting the bank account in your name and another persons name as joint owners.

All of these methods have pros and cons and before you use any of these methods, you should at least have an estate planning consultation with an attorney to ensure you are using the best methods for your specific circumstances.  If you would like a consultation on estate planning, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or