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What are the best options for avoiding probate?

As you create or review your estate plan, it's natural to have questions about probate. More specifically, you may turn your attention to the steps you can take to help your estate avoid the probate process.

Without probate, it's easier to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries in a timely and efficient manner.

There are several options for avoiding probate, with these three among the most common:

  • Revocable living trust: This allows you to move assets into a trust, which ensures that they avoid probate. Although the trustee retains control over the property until your passing, you have the right to revoke it for any reason.
  • Name a beneficiary: With some assets, you can name a beneficiary to inherit it after your death. For example, you can do this with a life insurance policy, which allows your beneficiary to quickly receive the death benefit.
  • Joint tenancy: With this, you're able to share property equally with another person, such as a spouse. When one person dies, the surviving person automatically inherits the property. For instance, if both individuals own a home together, when one person dies, the other automatically owns 100 percent of the property.

What are the reasons to avoid probate?

With a variety of ways to avoid probate, you shouldn't have any problem finding a strategy that works. However, before you do this, you'll want to understand why it's important for your estate to avoid probate:

  • Probate is a time-consuming process, especially in the event of a will contest
  • Probate can be expensive, especially if the process drags on
  • Probate can be stressful on your loved ones, as the process typically takes place shortly after your death

If you're concerned about putting your family in this situation, it's important to consider the best way to avoid probate.

Even if you have an estate plan in place, you can make changes in the immediate future to address your probate concerns. For example, you can move some or all of your assets into a revocable living trust. It may be a change from what you're used to, but once you have the new arrangement in place, you'll feel better about the future.

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