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Can you avoid Probate?
The probate process can be slow, costly and very stressful to the person who has to deal with all the issues.
Here are three ways you can avoid probate:
Write a living trust: Many people believe that simply having a last will and testament will prevent their loved ones from going through probate. This is not necessarily so. The truth is that all the assets that you own and will pass on to your beneficiaries are subject to probate. A revocable living trust circumvents the probate process which can leave your beneficiaries waiting indefinitely for the income from the probate assets. A revocable living trust is a document whereby you can create a living trust as a separate entity from yourself. The trustee can easily transfer the property it holds to the family and friends it was left to without probate.
Joint Ownership of Property: By taking joint ownership of a property you can avoid probate after the first owner dies. You must be sure you have stated on your deed how you want the title to be held. This way the property goes to the joint owner when the primary owner(s) dies, avoiding probate completely. You avoid probate using the following kinds of joint ownership: Joint tenancy with right of survivorship, tenancy by the entirety and community property with right of survivorship.
Pay-on-Death Accounts and Registrations: You can designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries on your bank accounts, insurance policies, pension plans, 401K plans, IRA accounts, stocks and bonds. This is actually quite easy and these financial instruments often include language that allow you to do so when you open them. This means you are then able to ensure that your assets are immediately dispersed without having to go through probate first which can save much time and expense!