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Ten Tips To Avoid Probate

When a person dies, their final personal, financial, and legal affairs must be resolved. In many instances, such matters are overseen by a legal process known as probate. California Probate courts are adjudicating bodies charged with the responsibility of carrying out duties like authenticating a deceased individual’s will and ensuring that said subject’s last wishes and duties are performed in accordance with the law.

Probate can, however, be a tedious and potentially complicated process that could take years to complete. Fortunately, individuals might prevent their families from having to experience probate by executing specific actions.

10 Tips To Avoid Probate

During probate, all of the decedent’s assets are subject to distribution and possibly taxation. That said, satisfying the deceased’s debts is also part of the probate process. Therefore, if said individual’s debts exceeded their assets, their heirs might be left with nothing. That said, the following ten suggestions serve as a way to potentially avoid such pitfalls and ensure that the deceased’s loved ones and other close relations take ownership of their holdings:

Establish Joint Tenancy For Property

The law affords individuals to establish what is known as joint tenancy for real estate holdings. For example, both spouses of a married couple live in, own, and manage a home. However, should only one spouse’s name be listed as the official owner, the property might be subject to probate upon said party’s passing. These circumstances can be avoided by establishing joint tenancy. Taking said action will establish survivorship on the part of the remaining spouse, which will automatically pass ownership onto said subject.

Authoring A Will

A decedent’s will, sometimes legally referred to as the last will and testament, is a legally-binding document that identifies the deceased’s heirs, lists their assets, and offers instructions regarding how their final affairs are to be carried out. It is important to note that property listed in the will still must be probated. However, probate courts are more likely to expedite the process in individuals who left wills provided said documents were authentic. The affairs of those who died without a will are more likely to fall under a probate court’s purview.

Establish A Trust

Certain subjects create what is known as a revocable living trust. Those who enter these arrangements place the entirety of their possessions into a trust with directives regarding how their assets are to be handled upon their passing. Additionally, the establishing individual appoints a trustee, who will carry out instructions after the decedent’s passing.

Gift Property To Others

Some persons might choose to gift certain holdings to family or other close relations prior to their death. The donor must remember, however, that once a property is gifted, they no longer hold legal control of said assets.

Establish Payable-On-Death Financial Accounts

Many financial institutions allow their customers to designate payable-on-death authorizations. This process is relatively straight forward. Upon the decedent’s passing, the individual designate as beneficiary presents the deceased’s death certificate and identification and is usually awarded the existing funds.

Vehicle Transfers

Cars and other types of transportation crafts are valuable assets. Certain states enable vehicle owners to designate transfer-on-death beneficiaries for said assets.

Real Estate Transfer-On-Death Arrangements

Several states allow home or property owners to transfer property to specific individuals upon their demise. Said action does, however, require that a transfer-on-death deed be established and entered into the public record.

Securities Transfers

Securities are holdings like stocks and bonds. Brokerage houses or other managing financial institutions offer clients to establish what are called transfer-on-death agreements. The process for settling these affairs are similar to those of establishments like banks.

Joint Ownership Of Other Assets

In most instances, a joint ownership designation can be placed on any particular asset. Therefore, the current owner can establish such designation, and the property in question will automatically become the designee’s holding after the decedent passes.

Look For Legal Provisions Governing Small Estates

Most states have simplified procedures for estates estimated to be less than a specific established amount.

Final Considerations

Probate can be a lengthy and complicated process. However, individuals might be able to spare their loved ones this responsibility and ensure said individuals receive the deceased’s assets by taking the time to execute some or all of the preceding suggestions.

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