6 Ways a Legal Professional Can Help Avoid Probate
Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. It involves verifying the validity of a decedent’s will and inventorying their assets. It pays any debts or taxes the estate owes and distributes the remaining assets to beneficiaries.
People prefer to avoid probate because it cuts costs, saves time, and benefits the deceased kin. Probate makes public the deceased information and personal financial matters. Avoiding probate gives you privacy, allowing you to keep sensitive information to yourself. Here are six ways you can avoid probate:
1. Hold Joint Property
Joint ownership avoids probate by ensuring property held in joint tenancy passes to the other owner upon death. Joint tenancy automatically grants the surviving tenants full ownership of the property. For two people to hold a joint property, they must be listed on the deed or title as owners and bear an equal share of the asset.
2. Write a Living Trust
A living trust allows you to appoint a trustee to manage your affairs in the event of death. You transfer your assets into the trust for them to distribute according to its terms. It includes investments, property, and personal possessions. All accounts held in joint tenancy should also change into the name of the trust.
3. Name Beneficiaries on Bank Accounts
Naming beneficiaries ensure the money and assets held in those accounts pass directly to the designated beneficiary upon death. Banks need proof of death before they release the funds to a beneficiary. A qualified legal professional can help clarify any issues surrounding inheritance laws. They will recommend ways to protect yourself and your family from disputes in the event of death.
4. Reduce Your Estate
Making smaller, deliberate plans for your assets instead of leaving a large estate can reduce the amount of property that needs to be passed on. It reduces the time and money spent in probate court proceedings. Gifting assets while you are still alive minimizes the size of your estate. It eliminates probate taxes and allows you to see their enjoyment in real-time.
5. Write a Will
A will provides clear instructions on how the kin should distribute assets and pay debts after death. A written document simplifies the process for those responsible for administering your estate. Wills may also include who should act as executor and guardian of underage children, preventing family disputes.
6. Estate Planning
Transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts, also known as payable-on-death (POD) accounts, can be used in estate planning. These accounts allow you to name beneficiaries who will receive the assets after your death without going through probate court proceedings.