One of the biggest considerations for many people during their estate planning process is trying to minimize the chances of their estate facing probate. Some people assume that probate is just unavoidable, but that isn't the case. In fact, if you work with a probate attorney when you establish your estate plan, you can often take the necessary steps to keep the bulk of your estate out of probate and protected from the delays that it can cause. Here's a look at some of the things that your probate attorney will typically recommend to help you avoid probate issues.
Create A Living Trust
Trusts have long been used to secure assets from probate. When you create a revocable living trust, those assets that you add to the trust become assets that belong to the trust, not your estate. When you pass away, the trust automatically transfers to the trustee that you appoint. Once that happens, your trustee is responsible for the distribution of those assets to the beneficiaries that you named. This keeps those assets out of probate since they aren't legally part of your estate.
Add An Additional Property Owner
Another thing that you can do to protect your estate from probate is to add an additional owner for your property. Whether you choose joint tenancy and ensure survivorship rights or tenancy by entirety, if your state allows for it, you'll have the legal establishment to transfer that property legally over to the other owner upon your death. This keeps that property from entering probate because it has existing ownership.
Your probate law attorney can help you determine the best joint ownership option for your property. The right choice will vary depending on if you're listing your spouse, a child, or someone else. Talk with your attorney about your joint ownership hopes so that you can find the solution that works best for your unique situation.
Establish A Payable-On-Death Account
Your bank accounts will typically fall under the probate courts as well unless there's a clear designation that protects them. For example, you can talk with your bank about establishing payable-on-death accounts where your funds will remain secure and automatically transfer to the beneficiary of your choosing once the bank receives a copy of your death certificate. These accounts are quick and easy to establish, but you can only name one beneficiary.
These are a few of the things that your probate law attorney will want you to know if you're looking for ways to protect your assets from probate. Contact a probate law attorney for more help and information.