Because the probate process can be costly and time consuming, most families generally wish to avoid the process. Because of this, it is helpful to be familiar with some methods available that may help families avoid probate. The overall estate planning and probate process is essential for estate planners and families to be familiar with.
One method of potentially avoiding the probate process is joint ownership of property. Jointly owned property with the right of survivorship allows property to be taken as joint tenants. When one of the joint tenants dies, the surviving tenant takes the deceased party's portion of the property. There are several different forms of joint property with rights of survivorship including joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety or community property. Each type can be set up through a written document.
Other options that may allow families to avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process includes death beneficiary designation, using a revocable living trust or giving property away as gifts. Death beneficiary designations apply in circumstances of payable on death accounts, retirement accounts or transfer of death resignations. A revocable living trust allows property to be transferred upon death without going through the probate process, however, it allows the party setting up the trust to maintain some control over the property.
Understanding the estate planning and probate process can help estate planners and families plan for the future and avoid the probate process. It can also provide peace of mind for the estate planner and families to know how the estate will be handled when the loved one passes.