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How to Avoid Probate and Protect Your Assets

Aug 30 | 2023  by

When it comes to probate, the number one question I always get from prospective clients is: How do I avoid probate? While there is no way to guarantee that your heirs will never have to formally probate your estate, there are a few ways that you can minimize those chances.

  1. Make sure your assets have named beneficiaries. If you have a life insurance policy, investments, bank or credit union account(s), or an IRA, make sure there is a named beneficiary. These beneficiary designations create contracts between you and financial institutions. Upon your death, any funds held in these accounts will be distributed to your named beneficiaries without the need for probate.
  2. Create a Trust. Once you create a Trust, you fund the Trust by conveying your assets to it. Unless your beneficiaries contest the terms, the administration of a Trust does not require the probate process.
  3. Create a Lady Bird Deed for your real estate. A Lady Bird Deed allows you to retain ownership and possession of your property (including the power to sell your property). Once you pass, the Lady Bird Deed will dictate to whom the property transfers. No probate will be required.
  4. Add joint ownership to your assets. Similar to designating beneficiaries, upon your death, a joint owner of an asset will gain ownership of the entirety of the asset.
  5. Gift assets away prior to your death.

These are a few effective ways to avoid the probate process; however, because there are consequences to each method, it is best to consult with an experienced probate attorney. I would be more than happy to discuss available options with you. Please feel free to email me at DMedina@FB-Firm.com or check out my attorney profile at www.FB-Firm.com.