Probate court is often a tedious and expensive process that can take a long time to complete.
Thankfully, you can avoid probate court with proper estate planning.
Transfer-on-death deeds and registration
A transfer-on-death form names a specific beneficiary who receives the deceased’s asset without question. Examples include:
- TOD deeds stipulate what happens to specific real estate following the signer’s death.
- TOD registration for accounts, such as stocks and bonds, allows the beneficiary to deal with the broker directly following the signer’s death.
- TOD registration for a vehicle allows the beneficiary to inherit the named vehicle.
You may have multiple transfers-on-death at once, covering all your assets.
Create living trusts
Living trusts function like a will in that you make yourself trustee of your estate and name a successor trustee that takes over only in the event of your death.
Payable-on-death for financial accounts
Payable-on-death forms allow you to transfer accounts, such as bank and savings accounts, to a beneficiary. While living, you have sole ownership of those accounts, and the beneficiary inherits them after your passing without the complication of probate court.
Right of survivorship and joint tenancy
“Right of survivorship” protects property with shared ownership. If you own any property with another, the property transfers to the surviving owner. Similarly, joint tenancy protects the other property owner. Both are common tactics for married and unmarried couples that own assets, such as vehicles and real estate, together.
Not all estates go through probate court, even without formal estate planning. However, any of the abovementioned tactics greatly lessen the risk.