“Avoiding Probate” is generally regarded as a good thing. But what does that actually mean? “Probate” refers to the legal proceedings commenced after death to administer and distribute a decedent’s estate and wind up the affairs and debts left at the time of death. It is usually a very routine process. Although there is a certain amount of minimum time and expense involved, the complexity of probate is completely dictated by the circumstances in existence at the time of death and the claims and disputes arising from interested persons. So, yes, it is good to avoid probate, if that can be done in a manner that does not create more problems than it solves.
There are a number of different legal tools or arrangements that can be used to avoid probate of particular assets. These include beneficiary designations for financial accounts, enhanced life estate or survivorship deeds, and revocable trusts. Which is appropriate for you will depend on your particular circumstances and preferences. As part of an estate planning consultation, I will make recommendations to you regarding avoiding probate.
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