How to Avoid Probate
When an individual dies, the assets owned by the decedent are often required to pass
through a legal process known as probate. Most jurisdictions have special, limited
jurisdiction, courts that handle the probate of estates. A formal probate typically takes
between 9 and 24 months, to complete. Along with the time required to probate an estate,
the legal fees, appraiser fees and other costs associated with the probate of an estate can
take a significant chunk out of the estate assets. While each situation is unique, there are a
number of tactics that you can employ now to help avoid the need for probate upon your
1. STET. A trust is a legal agreement whereby you appoint someone as trustee to hold
property of yours for the benefit of beneficiaries. There are a number of different types of
trusts; however, the important aspect of a trust is that the property you place in a trust is
not subject to probate upon your death, because the property does not legally belong to
you at the time of death. From a legal standpoint, trust property belongs to the trust, or
trustee, and can be transferred to the beneficiaries upon your death without the need to
pass through probate first.
2. Joint Ownership. In most cases, you have the option to own real property, such as your
home, jointly in one form or another. Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship is a form
of joint ownership that allows you to own property jointly with anyone you choose. The
property then passes directly to the joint tenant upon your death. Tenants by the entirety
is similar to joint tenancy with rights of survivorship but is generally only available to
married couples. Either way, your property avoids probate upon your death.
3. Payable on Death Accounts. Other assets, such as bank accounts, investment accounts
and retirement accounts typically allow you the option to convert them to “payable on
death accounts”. By assigning a beneficiary to the account and converting it to a payable
upon death account, the funds held in the account can be paid out directly to the
beneficiary upon your death.
State laws will vary somewhat with regard to options for avoiding probate. Consult with
your estate planning attorney to best determine how you can structure your assets in a
way that probate can be avoided upon your death.
Experienced estate planning attorneys Portland OR of Law Offices of Richard B.
Schneider, LLC. offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of
Portland OR. To learn more about these free resources, please
visit http://www.rbsllc.com today.