Four ways you can avoid probate

Four ways you can avoid probate

Planning for the future isn’t always easy, especially if it concerns plans for after your death. You’re likely not ready to talk about it, but you must find the time to do so anyway.

When you don’t prepare for the future, it can cause problems for your family after you pass. The probate process can take years to resolve and can be expensive, tangling up your family in the courts for an unfairly long time.

If you want to avoid probate, there are some steps you can take:

  • Joint tenancy ownership – Joint tenancy refers to property that is equally owned by two or more people. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship allows your estate to pass onto the living owner. If your estate is currently only under your name, you may want to consider updating the title to prevent your home from being stuck in probate.
  • Payable on death accounts – Payable on death (POD) accounts allow you to add a beneficiary to your account so that, upon your death, the account passes onto your recipient.
  • Revocable living trust – Another way to avoid probate is to create a revocable living trust. This allows you to transfer property to another person, who will then own the property even after your death, effectively avoiding probate. You can set up specific terms and conditions when creating the trust that requires the trustee to transfer ownership to a relative after your death.
  • Gifts – Before your death, you may want to consider giving away certain items that you want to pass down to your family, such as collectibles or furniture. By gifting these pieces to family or friends, you can avoid probate for many of your assets.

Probate can be a challenging and frustrating process. In the state of Minnesota, even if you have a will, probate is required at time death upon two circumstances: 1) you have real estate titled only under your name, and 2) your probate assets exceed $50,000.

It’s essential to understand what kinds of assets can be probated so that you plan accordingly for the future. The more you prepare ahead of time for after your death, the better your wishes will be followed, and your family will be able to avoid the stress of the probate system.

William G. Peterson
FindLaw Network