Probate is the legal process through which the estate of a person who passes away with or without a will is administered. Some of the kinds of issues that are handled by the probate court include determining whether or not a will is valid, transferring assets to the designated beneficiaries, settling tax debts, and determining how the state’s intestacy laws apply, if there is no will. It is important for anyone that has assets that they plan to pass to future generations to understand that while this process may sound relatively simple, it actually can be quite complicated and cost thousands of dollars in legal and administrative fees. As a result, having your assets go through probate can significantly reduce the value of the estate that is being transferred to your beneficiaries.
Methods of Avoiding Probate
Fortunately, there are ways in which a person can set up his or her estate that avoids his or her assets having to go through probate. Some of the most commonly utilized methods to avoid probate include the following:
- A Living Trust – One of the most straightforward ways of avoiding probate is to place all of your assets in a living, or “inter vivos,” trust. These trusts are created during the trust-creator’s (the grantor) life, and generally involve placing his or her assets into a trust of which he or she is the trustee. As a result, the grantor retains control of his or assets. After the grantor passes away, the trust assets are transferred to the trust beneficiaries without having to go through the probate process.
- Joint Ownership of Assets – Joint ownership is another way individuals can avoid having their assets go through probate. For example, if a husband and wife jointly own a home or a joint and survivorship bank account and one of them dies, the living joint owner will automatically have full ownership of the home or bank account without having to go through any legal procedures.
- Beneficiary Deeds – Beneficiary deeds are a type of real estate deed that automatically transfers the real estate to a named beneficiary when the owner of the parcel passes away. As a result, any real property that is transferred by means of a beneficiary deed does not need to go through probate.
- Payable-on-Death Bank Accounts – These kinds of accounts, often referred to as “POD accounts,” are created by the account holder notifying the bank of who he or she wants to inherit the money in the account.
Whether these or other methods of probate avoidance are appropriate in your case depends on what type of assets make up your estate. Consequently, it is important to meet with a lawyer in order to determine what probate avoidance techniques may be right for you.
Contact a Columbus, Ohio Probate Attorney Today to Discuss Your Legal Options
Anyone that has assets that they wish to pass to future generations should consider should consider discussing his or her situation with an experienced Columbus probate lawyer. In many instances, the help of an attorney can save your beneficiaries a significant amount of time and money in the future. To schedule a consultation with an attorney, call the Law Office of Michael Gertner today at 614-463-9393.