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    Most people want to avoid probate to protect their heirs’ inheritance – and for good reason! When an estate enters the probate process, it often feels like ages before the assets reach their intended heirs. While some states have streamlined the probate process, many estates still encounter lengthy delays and extra expenses. Structuring your estate in a way that will avoid probate as much as possible and ensure quick bequeathal to your heirs can save your loved ones plenty of headaches. Luckily, it’s easy to avoid probate! With the right planning and structure, you can set everything in motion for a smooth process. 

    Avoid Probate with a Living Trust or Joint Account 

    The most common way to avoid probate is with a living trust. Living trusts pass retain legal ownership of your assets which allows your assets to transfer to an assigned heir. Even though that is a great way to avoid probate, other methods can help you as well if a living trust isn’t for you.  

    One main way to avoid probate is by using joint accounts or joint titles. Married couples, unmarried partners, or even friends and family who own real estate and financial accounts together with right of survivorship can avoid probate if one spouse passes away. The surviving person will immediately take on full ownership of the asset. For example, a grandfather can create a joint account with his son or grandson at a financial institution. The younger person will automatically inherit the account once the grandfather passes, avoiding probate. There are downsides, however. Both owners of the account have free access to make changes without consent of the other owner. So, only create a joint account with someone you believe is trustworthy and honest. 

    Inheritance Agreements Among Business Owners 

    Another way you can avoid probate is to create an inheritance agreement. This is a contract in which the owner agrees another person will inherit the property after the owner’s death. Agreements like these are mainly used among co-owners of businesses. The perk with these agreements is that the court is not involved unless there is a disagreement about the contract. However, verifying and working out these agreements can be a bit cumbersome.  

    The most effective way to avoid probate is with both a living trust and a pour-over will. These estate planning documents will clearly spell out your intentions when you pass for all assets and your minor children. Any estate assets that are not listed in the trust will be addressed in the pour-over will, ensuring your entire estate and family are protected. 

    If you have any questions about estate planning documents, today or call (909) 497-1349 to schedule your next appointment with our team of professional LDAs!