Every estate will go through the probate process when it is administered. But not every estate has to have all of their assets go through that process. Protecting your hard earned property and assets from the probate process is a critical step to saving your beneficiaries and loved ones painful and extended probate litigation, as well as preserving the value of your estate.
So what can you do to achieve this? Here are a few simple measures that you can utilize to avoid the probate process:
- Many of your financial accounts can be equipped with a death beneficiary, which is exactly what it sounds like. You name a beneficiary who will take control of your account upon your death. 401(k) accounts, bank accounts, and retirement accounts usually have this option, and you should utilize it to protect these accounts from probate.
- Joint ownership agreements function similarly to a death beneficiary. When you have a joint ownership agreement, upon your death your interests in the piece of property that is jointly owned will be transferred to the other owner immediately. This means it is exempt from the probate process.
- Gifting your assets is another great way to avoid probate. Assets that aren't your can't go through the probate process, can they? So if you give away your assets to people who you want to have them, then they won't be subject to probate. Just make sure you properly gift these assets.
Source: FindLaw, "Avoiding the Probate Process," Accessed Oct. 26, 2017