How to Avoid Probate
If you die without a will, it’s very possible that your family will have to wait for a probate court to review your assets and distribute them according to state laws. While a will is a good way to avoid probate courts, you can consult with your estate planning attorney to review a few of the other options for you.
Assets such as a 401k, life insurance policy, and an annuity have beneficiary designations. Upon your death, these kinds of accounts generally do not have to pass through probate. The beneficiaries will have to do little more than to prove their identity and show a death certificate to take possession of the asset. Some states allow this same kind of benefit with bank accounts and investment accounts. These can be called a Transfer on Death (TOD) or Payable on Death (POD) account. A life estate deed is an option for avoiding probate for real estate.
Review the legal implications of how you hold real estate. There are several options for how to hold real estate. For example, if your deed says “Tenants in Common” your real estate will have to pass through probate before it can be distributed. You can consult with an estate planner to ensure your assets are properly designated.
Lastly, you can avoid probate by giving all of your assets away before you die. Luckily, you can put a lot of your assets into a trust (there are several kinds) that will benefit whomever you choose during your life and afterward. An estate attorney can help you create the proper kind of trust for you and your family.