How can your estate avoid probate?

When planning your estate, you may want to keep things simple by drafting a straightforward will. Yet, wills often prove complex in the long run because they face probate. This process is slow. And beyond the basic fees, probate can become costly if it endures. But there are ways that your estate can avoid probate, and more of it can go to your beneficiaries.

Establish a revocable trust

Revocable trusts allow for a straightforward transfer of your property after you pass. Through the trust, you name the beneficiaries of your property. And instead of going through probate, a trustee has the power to pass it down without a court order. All property in the trust remains yours while you’re living. Furthermore, revocable trusts can be altered at any point during your lifetime. If you need to make changes, this arrangement allows you to do so.

Consider joint ownership

Retaining your property during your lifetime is important. Yet, you may consider joint ownership with its beneficiary. In this case, you would add their name to the title or deed of the shared property without giving up your ownership. Once you pass, the property immediately transfers to the living owner, instead of getting disbursed in a probate hearing. Keep in mind that joint ownership makes more sense for vehicles and real estate than financial assets. With accounts and portfolios, both owners can access it and withdraw funds at any time.

Set up payable-on-death accounts

If you have retirement or bank accounts that you want to pass on, you can fill out a form that names their beneficiary. These accounts become payable-on-death, so long as the beneficiary has a copy of your death certificate and a government ID. The beneficiary then becomes the accounts’ owner without going through probate. In Georgia, you can transfer securities in a similar manner.

If you worry about your assets facing probate, know that there are other options. An estate planning attorney can help you work through the process of avoiding it.

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Kevin Tharpe

With 25 years of experience, Kevin understands how estate planning, special needs planning, and government benefits programs work together. This is a crucial element of a thorough plan. He explains your eligibility for benefits programs and ensures that you do not make costly mistakes that may disqualify you or deplete your assets.

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