Probate can be a fact in many estates. However, this is often a lengthy and expensive process that your family should not have to endure in the aftermath of your death especially while dealing with grief. There are ways to reduce the risk of lengthy probate and even ways to avoid probate altogether.
The best way to avoid probate, or to at least shorten the process, is to ensure that your will is valid and up-to-date at all times; that way, when death occurs, there will be no question as to who your heirs are, who receives what, etc. Intestacy (dying without a will) or partial intestacy (a partially invalid will) complicates the probate process.
Other ways to avoid probate include:
- POD or TOD Accounts (ban accounts, retirement accounts, investments, etc.), which transfer to the beneficiary at the time of death rather than being provided for in your will and lingering in probate court.
- Joint Ownership and other TOD Real Estate provisions where property transfers to the surviving owner or beneficiary at the time of death rather than being disposed of in your will.
- Community property agreements
- Revocable living trust
Avoiding probate does not change family obligations, the right of certain family members to their inheritance, tax obligations, or debt. If you have questions or concerns about such issues, contact an experienced estate planning attorney today.