How do you avoid probate?

Estate Planning
By Goodwin Como, P.C.

The probate process in Pennsylvania or any other state in America is a very time consuming and expensive process that you may want to exclude your family from going through. According to the American Bar Association, families may eventually have to face the probate courts when a minor gets to inherit property, a loved one dies or becomes incompetent.

Even though the probate system protects your family members and creditors residing in Pennsylvania, you have several options that may help you avoid this costly and lengthy process. You may determine how to divide your property and who will get to raise your minor children.

You may make joint property ownership with someone else. When you co-own property with someone else, you may include the right of survivorship in the agreement. It will allow the surviving owner to acquire the property in the event one person dies. It may enable them to transfer the property without probate.

You may create a living trust. By creating a living trust, you may avoid probate for your property, bank accounts, vehicles, and virtually any other assets that you own. You need to create a trust document and name someone to become your trustee when you die. You should transfer your property and assets to yourself as the trustee. When you die, the trustee may then claim the trust beneficiaries without the need for a probate hearing.

In Pennsylvania, you may as well name a payable on-death beneficiary who may have the right to claim the money in your bank accounts upon your death. You may register your bank accounts, bond, and stocks in transfer on death (TOD) form. The beneficiary may then acquire your assets directly by dealing with the brokerage firm instead of going to a probate court when you die.

This information is provided to give you a general idea on how you can avoid probate. You should not interpret it as legal advice.