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.

Wit & Wisdom

“Once men get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others they are not easily cured of it.” (1909 New York Times editorial against the federal income tax)


I delayed having a Will prepared for years, but you made it very painless. You made us comfortable with the process and the answers to our questions. My wife and I left feeling very confident we have done the right thing for our children and grandchildren with our Trust and Will." (Mike & Pam B., Eagle, Idaho)