McDonald Warner - Probate, Elder Law, & Special Needs

Is it possible to skip probate all together?

The purpose of estate planning is to achieve control over things that happen after you die. One of these things is the probate process.

During probate, the court looks at your estate and locates assets to be distributed. The way to sidestep the probate process is to not have very much in the form of assets. This can be achieved in a variety of ways.

Give it away. If you give your child or grandchild your house, so that they are listed as the owner and not you, your house will not be included in the probate inventory.

Co-own your property.There are several ways toco-own.One method isJoint Tenancy with a Right of Survivorship. Your name and the names of others are on the deed. When one joint tenant passes, the property goes directly to the remaining tenants, bypassing probate. You can also set up financial accounts, stock ownership so that ownership is payable or transfers to the co-owner upon death.

Put it in a trust. If you set up a revocable trust in which to place your assets (also called a living trust) you have great flexibility so long as you live to alter its terms or revoke it altogether. If the trust owns your property at the time of your death, those asses will not pass through probate. Revocable trusts become irrevocable when you die.

It is important to make these changes now, while you are still among us. After you pass, it is too late to stay out of probate.

Finally, these changes in ownership are not complicated to make. Your estate and probate lawyer can help you make the changes.

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