Ways to Avoid Probate

All of us would like pass on a little something to our children or other loved ones. We save and save to make life a little easier for the people we care about. The last thing anyone wants is to give a large portion of their hard-earned money to the government in the form of probate fees. Nor do we want our loved ones, especially our spouses and children to wait months, even years to receive a penny.

Avoiding the delays and costs of probate is much easier than you think. Here are some basic tips to keep more of your estate in the hands of the people who matter most.

Living Revocable Trusts
Living Revocable Trusts are probably the best-known way to avoid subjecting your family to the hassle and expense of probate court proceedings after your death. But there are many other good probate-avoidance techniques, which you can use in addition to or even instead of a living trust. What’s right for you and your family will depend on your unique circumstances.

Other Methods
Here are some easy-to-use methods of avoiding probate for different kinds of assets. Best of all, many of these methods are absolutely free!

  • Add a Joint Person to almost any Asset. Several forms of joint ownership provide a simple and easy means of avoiding probate when the first owner dies. This is available to married and single people.  Many couples conclude that holding title to their major assets as joint owners is all the estate planning they want to engage in, at least while they are younger. To avoid probate by taking title as joint owners with someone else, you state on the paper that shows your ownership (a real estate deed, for example) how you want to hold title. Usually, no additional documents are needed
  • Add Transfer-on-Death Instructions to Bank Accounts and Registrations (also called Pay on Death)
  • Hold Real Estate in a Life Estate or Living Trust