FEDweek

Managing Your Assets to Avoid Probate

If you draw up a will, any property included in that will must go through probate before it can pass to your heirs. The same thing happens if you die without a will: your estate still will have to go through probate, the process in which a court determines who inherits a decedent’s property.

In some states, this isn’t much of a problem. In other states, though, probate can be expensive and time-consuming. Check with a local attorney to determine the situation in your state.

If you discover it’s worthwhile to bypass probate, you can arrange your assets to keep them out of that process.

Accounts with beneficiaries don’t go through probate. IRAs, life insurance policies, and so on go directly to beneficiaries you’ve named. Jointly-held property also goes straight to the surviving co-owner, if the property is held “with right of survivorship.”

Property held in trust avoids probate, too. When you create the trust, you can spell out how the trust’s property will pass at your death.