How Can I Keep My Heirs From Going Through Probate?

How can I keep my heirs from having to go through probate? Besides setting up a Living Trust, there are a few other ways to avoid probate.  These include the following:

(1) The property can be set up with a joint tenancy or a life estate form of ownership;

(2) Bank accounts and securities investments (stocks and bonds) can designate a “payable on death” beneficiary;

(3)  A married couple can sign a devolution agreement; or

(4)  The property can be given away to friends of family prior to death.

Unfortunately, these alternatives usually have significant adverse tax or other implications.  A person should confer with an attorney before deciding to use one of these options in order to avoid probate.

For a more thorough discussion of these potentially serious risks, see the Blog entry here.

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