Steps for Avoiding Probate

Probate is a process supervised by the court for authenticating a last will. The process will include establishing the value of the assets the deceased left, paying their final taxes and bills and then distributing whatever remains of their estate to the rightful beneficiary.

Every state has different laws in place for starting probate including probate codes and regulations governing intestate succession for decedents who die without a will. While probate laws vary with the state, the steps are similar.

After the diseased passes on, a Denver, CO family lawyer or attorney will first help to authenticate the testament and last will. A petition will be made to open probate, and sometimes one may need to file death certificates with the request.

Probate is simple to avoid. Note that approaches will vary by the assets you have and the people you wish to leave your property after you pass on. The following are steps to go about it:

Do away with your property

If you want a sure way to get around probate, getting rid of your assets and property is the best way forward. Without ownership, there will be no estate to probate. Note that this step is often impractical because you need resources to live out the rest of your life.

In some cases, an attorney will help you give your assets using individual trusts where you are the beneficiary. Alongside other techniques, trusts can mean zero probate assets, eliminating the need for probate.

Using shared ownership with survivorship rights or complete tenancy

You may consider adding a co-owner to an investment or bank account or your real estate deed to escape probate. If the co-owner gets full rights after you pass on, probate will not be necessary. In some states, spouses get to have a property with survivorship rights by complete tenancy.

However, joint ownership will present some drawbacks. For instance, the joint owner becomes a taxable present that is subject to the gift tax. If the co-owner gets sued or divorced, their spouse could take the assets you leave them.

Using beneficiaries

Suppose you have life insurance or your assets are held in retirement accounts or annuity, you already are avoiding probate with beneficiary designations. Most states let you designate a beneficiary for each bank account – payable upon death.

For investment accounts that do not deal with retirement, you can use ‘transfer on death’ accounts. Some states let people select real estate beneficiaries using ‘transfer on death’ deeds.

Using revocable living trusts

Revocable living trusts are written agreements that cover your healthy life, the life after your death, and your life, should you become mentally incapacitated. Signing one of these agreements may not guarantee probate avoidance. You will have to title your assets under your trust to avoid probate.

Otherwise referred to as funding the trust, you will have to consider the trust like a bag that you fill with assets to keep safe after you pass on.

The ways of avoiding probate are limited. What works depends on your financial and family situations. Consider using more than one technique to be secure. That way, you ensure a peaceful life for yourself and your dear ones after you die.​

Shane McNally

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