Did you know there are a number of ways to shorten or even avoid probate? Probate can be a long drawn out court process that can leave families physically and mentally tired by the time an estate finally settles.
Probate is usually shorter with a Last Will and Testament than without. Estates that do not have an estate plan almost always require probate. When no Will is present, all of your property, accounts, and any policies that do not state a beneficiary will need to endure this lengthy process to determine rightful heirs.
If you have a Will, you should update it regularly. This helps to ensure that all your beneficiaries are alive and that you still have the property that you intend to leave. Any property or beneficiary change should be quickly noted with the help of your attorney.
To make probate easy for your spouse or domestic partner, have your home titled in both of your names, as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Property that is only solely titled may have to endure the process of probate, and if there are any questions of heir, this process may drag on for some time.
You can also use joint or payable on death accounts. In fact, these types of accounts may help eliminate the need for probate. If you do have any retirement accounts, life insurance policies or other financial assets, be sure to name a beneficiary if it is not a joint or pay on death account. If you need to update an account recipient, update the actual financial document. Naming a new policy beneficiary only in your Will may cause problems in probate.
You can also use a Revocable Living Trust for a shorter probate procedure. You can fund property and financial assets into your trust. During your lifetime you will be trustee, and property can easily pass to your loved ones upon your death. A trust, if fully funded, may even help your family to avoid probate altogether.
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