Probate Avoidance Options

The amount of time that your estate remains in probate can vary by state. For instance, in Nevada, it can take a minimum of up to 180 days. In Oregon, it could take as much as nine months. If you want to avoid probate and ensure your heirs get their part of your estate as soon as possible, you need to take action now. 

Why Is Avoiding Probate Important?

The biggest reason for avoiding probate is that it prevents your heirs from taking immediate ownership of the possessions left to them. This means that your heirs cannot make decisions about what to do with those assets until the court has accepted the will you left. Probate is also expensive because of court and attorney fees. This means less money for your estate. 

What Can You Do?

Depending on the types of assets you have, there are a few available methods for avoiding probate. For instance, if you have real estate, your attorney could establish a living trust and transfer ownership of the property to the trust before you die. If you have stocks and bonds, you could designate a beneficiary to receive the funds when you die. The payable-on-death beneficiary would only have to produce a death certificate and identification to receive the assets. 

What If You Have a Small Estate?

If you have a small estate, avoiding probate might still be a concern. Even though the amount to be distributed to your heirs is less than a larger estate, you do not want your heirs waiting months for their share. Some states have a legal shortcut for smaller estates. 

If your estate is valued at a certain dollar amount or less, your heirs can file an affidavit to claim possession of your property. In this instance, your probate attorney would create a document that states your will has designated that your assets be given to certain people. After the affidavit is signed by the heirs, it can be filed with the court. Once this is done, the assets can be distributed. 

There is a catch though. Real estate must still go through the probate process. Depending on the state in which you live, you can possibly ask for a simplified process. Your attorney can file the necessary paperwork for that. 

Your probate lawyer can help you find other ways to avoid probate. Regardless of whether you have a large or small estate, taking steps now to reduce the wait time your heirs have is a smart move.