Probate can be costly and time consuming, but there are a few ways in which you can help your family avoid probate court. Making sure you name beneficiaries, live in a community property state or sell your property and assets before death can help resolve probate concerns.
1. Use the power of naming beneficiaries
One way to avoid going to probate court is to make sure assets are made to be payable on death, transfer on death or are placed in a trust with a designated beneficiary. In most cases, this works well because it separates assets into categories and makes sure they’re delivered to the person you intended to give them to.
One problem with this process that might come up is that if a person dies before the property owner or account owner, then the assets have no designated party to go to. If that happens, any assets that aren’t designated will have to go through the probate process. You can avoid this by taking additional steps such as owning property jointly with a son or daughter, spouse or friend to whom you want to give the property upon your passing.
2. Benefit from living in a community property state
Living in a community property state like Texas is a good choice if you’re worried about what will happen to assets your spouse owns. As the spouse of a person who passes away, you have the right of survivorship; this right gives you the ability to claim all property in full without having to go to court.
Married couples always have the right to hold property as community property. Iif you’re not sure if yours is community property, then consider speaking to a legal professional about what steps, if any, you need to make sure the property goes to your spouse after death.
3. Sell it all before your loved one passes away
A good way to avoid heading to a probate hearing is to make sure all of a loved one’s assets are sold or exchange hands before the person passes way. For example, if your mom or dad owns a home, selling the home earlier and placing the money in a beneficiary’s account takes care of what happens to it and means you don’t have to go to probate court to determine where the money goes or how the home should be liquidated.
Selling or doling out items before a person is ill or passes away means that the person also has the ability to make his or her wishes known, so the assets go exactly where they should. An attorney or legal professional can help you designate beneficiaries or establish trusts .