You might not have thought too much about what happens to your stuff after you die, but estate planning and thinking about probate are important in caring for your loved ones. You do not want to leave a mess for them to deal with after you are gone.
Fortunately, through careful estate planning and taking other steps, you can help your friends and family avoid the hardships involved in administering your estate.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of transferring property after death. It is often a time-consuming and expensive process that can lead to extra headaches for the people who must handle it. Probate and estate administration must go through the court system and there are many steps between the start of probate and the actual administering of property and assets.
The length and expense of probate is often why people want to plan in advance to let their loved ones avoid it and there are several ways you can do this.
What Steps Can I Take To Avoid It?
Avoiding probate takes careful planning in advance. There are a few different ways you can estate plan so most of your assets and property do not have to go through probate including:
- Revocable living trusts: with a living trust, the property in it is not part of your probate estate. This type of trust transfers ownership of the property to a trustee who can easily and quickly transfer the property to your loved ones after you die.
- Pay-on-Death accounts: with these, you can convert your bank and retirement accounts to be transferred directly to a beneficiary upon your death.
- Joint ownership: creating joint ownership is a particularly straightforward way to avoid probate as ownership transfers to the co-owner when the first owner dies, instead of going into the probate estate.
- Gifting: giving away your property before you die is another simple way to avoid probate. Only property and assets that you own are subject to probate.
Taking some or all of these steps to avoid the probate process can help your family save time and money so they are able to focus on more important things. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you set up a trust and give you more solid advice about probate and other estate planning processes.