How Can I Avoid Probate?

It is important to understand that “probate” is the court supervised process necessary to properly transfer assets after someone’s death. Each state has its own unique probate process. However, if your goal is to avoid probate altogether, there are a number of tools and strategies available.

One way to avoid probate is to form a living trust and transfer ownership of every asset you own to the trustee of the trust, which in most cases would be yourself.

Other tools available include using “payable-on-death” designations for bank accounts, community property agreements if you’re married, or using “rights of survivorship” provisions for property that is owned jointly with another person. This strategy requires you to ensure that each and every asset you own has a transfer mechanism that is automatically triggered upon your death. Most states also have a non-probate transfer process available if the total estate assets are less than a certain dollar value. The strategy you employ to avoid probate will depend largely on the character and value of the assets you own.
If you’re ready to discuss your unique estate planning needs contact one of our estate planning attorneys.