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How to Avoid Probate: Part 1

“Probate this, probate that!” you may be thinking. That’s fine, but what if I don’t want to deal with any of it? Is there a way to avoid it entirely?

The simple one-word answer is: YES!

In Part 1 of this three-part quick how-to guide, we’ll cover a couple of things: Revocable Living Trusts, Pay-On-Death Accounts, and Registrations.

To begin, let’s look at the first thing.

Revocable Living Trust

Basically, Living trusts were created in order to give people an end-run around probate. One advantage of having any of your valuable property in a trust is that it is not considered part of the probate estate. Keep in mind, however, that it is counted as part of the estate for federal tax purposes.) The reason for this is because someone called a trustee, and not you as an individual, owns the property left in the trust.

After you pass away, the trustee can then easily and quickly pass along the trust property to whomever you left it to—thus avoiding the probate process. You are also able to specify in the trust document (think of it almost like a will) who you want to inherit the property, whether family or friends.

Pay-On-Death Accounts

Something interesting that you can do with your bank accounts and retirement accounts are to convert them into what is known as a Pay-On-Death account. This process is rather easy. All you have to do is fill out a simple form and then list someone as a beneficiary. Upon death, the monies in those accounts go directly to the beneficiary you listed and thus avoid the probate process.


You can also do the same thing for security registrations and, in some states, even vehicle registrations as well. It is important to note that some states also allow for Payable-On-Death real estate deeds that use a deed that doesn’t go into effect until you pass away.

Other Ways to Avoid Probate

So as you can see, there are quite a few ways to fully avoid going through probate if that’s something you decide you’d rather not do. In part 2 of our article, we’ll look at how to avoid probate using Joint Ownership of Property and by giving Gifts.

Scott Counsel’s attorneys are well-versed in Surrogate Court procedures. When your rights are violated, we can advise you of your rights and, if necessary, file a lawsuit to seek an appropriate remedy. Contact us today at (856) 485-4585.

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