When Can You Avoid Probate?

Wills are an important part of a complete estate plan, and everyone needs to have one. You should also understand that if there is a will, it must be probated. Filing wills with the probate court usually means having to wait a few months for it to become final, and following the wishes of deceased must be delayed until that time. While a will might always be what everyone thinks of when they think about estate planning, to stop at just a will and go no further could be a mistake.

There several ways to deal with the property of an estate that doesn't involve probate at all, so read on to learn more.

You Create a Revocable Trust

If you want to use a method of dealing with property that closely resembles a will but is better than a will in many ways, consider a revocable trust. It's creation will allow the owner of the trust to assign a trustee who will oversee the trust upon the owner's death, a position that is very similar to that of a executor or personal representative. Here are just a few of the benefits of a trust over a will.

Beneficiaries to inherit property after the trust owner's death may be named, but those beneficiaries don't have to wait until probate is complete to take ownership of their property; they can do so almost immediately after the death, once a death certificate is available.

Also, if a will and trust addresses the same piece of property, the trust takes precedence over will. For example, if a will names John to inherit the Matisse but the trust names Mary to inherit the same Matisse, the artwork will go to Mary.

The contents of the trust are completely private; unlike a will which is published and is public record. This means not only more privacy for the family, but could cut down on infighting between various parties named in the trust since each beneficiary has no idea what anyone else is getting.

You Modify a Deed

When it comes property, real estate usually makes up the largest percentage of value for an estate and when that property gets held up in probate court it may be inconvenient for the beneficiaries of a will. Fortunately, there is an easy remedy to deal with real estate and it can mean that your beneficiaries will take ownership of any property almost seamlessly. Speak with your family attorney about modifying your property deed. You will find that there are several ways to own property, such as right of survivorship and joint ownership.

Transfer on Death

Another large portion of many people's estates are their investment and banking accounts. A quick and easy document can be executed that will name a person (or persons) to gain access to the funds in an account as soon as the death certificate is available. This may be known as transfer on death or payable on death.