When you die, the probate courts have the responsibility to oversee the distribution of your property either to your closest family members or to the beneficiaries you name and your estate plan.
Trying to bypass probate court requires advance planning. There are multiple ways that a testator can arrange for their most valuable assets to sidestep probate requirements and pass directly to the people whom they want to inherit the property.
Adding transfer on death designations to accounts
Having bank accounts and financial resources land in probate limbo could put your closest loved ones in a position of financial hardship. Although you may not want them to have access to or control over the account now, you can add a transfer on death designation to your financial accounts that will give certain people immediate access to those funds and keep them out of probate court.
Making gifts of major assets to loved ones now
Downsizing is frequently part of enjoying your golden years. You may move to a smaller house or move in with family members. That will require that you reduce how much personal property you have.
You can gift assets to your loved ones now so that those assets don’t contribute to the total value of your estate when you die. As an added bonus, you will have the opportunity to witness your loved ones enjoying their inheritance.
Moving the property to a trust
Only assets that you personally own have to go through probate court, so transferring ownership from your name to a trust you have created will mean that the property no longer needs to pass through probate court. Your house and other major assets can help fund a trust that you have access to while still alive and that your family members will benefit from after you die.
Carefully planning for your estate can help ensure that you leave a legacy for your loved ones that doesn’t require months of waiting or the approval of a judge.