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Estate planning tips for bypassing probate

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Estate Planning |

The passing of a loved one is a challenging time, and the last thing families need is the added stress of facing the probate process. Probate, while necessary in some instances, can be a time-consuming and costly procedure that involves the courts in the administration of a deceased person’s estate.

As you begin your estate planning journey, you may hear legal and financial professionals warning you against the probate process. This is because bypassing this legal process not only speeds up the distribution of assets but also keeps your affairs private and reduces the burden on your loved ones.

Establish a living trust

Creating a living trust is one of the most effective estate planning tools for avoiding probate. When you establish a trust, you place your assets under the management of a trustee for the benefit of your chosen beneficiaries. A living trust does not go through probate, which ensures your assets go directly to your beneficiaries almost immediately upon your passing without the need for court intervention.

Assign beneficiaries for financial assets

Many financial accounts allow you to designate beneficiaries who will receive the assets directly upon your death. Examples of these include retirement accounts, life insurance policies and even some bank accounts. Designations on these types of accounts generally supersede instructions in a will, enabling assets to bypass the probate process entirely. Updating beneficiaries for these assets is crucial, especially after pivotal life events such as marriage, divorce or the arrival of a child.

Hold joint property

Owning property with another individual is another effective method of bypassing probate. A jointly held property passes directly to the co-owner upon your death. However, it is essential to reflect on the full scope of a joint ownership’s impact on your estate. When used wisely, this method can be a powerful way to ensure your property is handled according to your wishes.

When structuring your estate, it is vital to remember that this task is not solely about distributing your assets, but also about ensuring peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. Understanding your options and carefully planning can safeguard your wishes and provide your family with clarity and security when they need it most.

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