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Blogs from May, 2024


When a loved one passes away, their estate must go through probate. Probate is a legal procedure that validates and distributes a deceased person's assets and debts to their heirs and beneficiaries. It can be a time-consuming and costly process that can delay the distribution of assets to beneficiaries for months if not years. However, there are ways to avoid probate altogether.

1. Create a Living Trust

Creating a living trust is one of the most common ways to avoid probate. A living trust is a legal document that names someone as the trustee who manages the trust during your lifetime. You can transfer ownership of your assets to the trust while you're still alive, so they'll still be accessible if needed. When you pass away, your successor trustee will take over management of the trust and distribute its assets according to your wishes without going through probate.

2. Joint Ownership with Right of Survivorship

Another option for avoiding probate is joint ownership with the right of survivorship. This means that when one owner dies, their share automatically goes to the surviving owner(s) without going through probate. This option is commonly used for real estate property or bank accounts.

3. Beneficiary Designations

You can avoid probate by naming beneficiaries on certain assets like life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or investment accounts like stocks or bonds. When you pass away, these assets will automatically go to your named beneficiaries without going through probate.

4. Small Estate Administration

If you have a small estate worth less than $100,000 (in some states like California), you may be able to use small estate administration instead of going through formal probate. This process involves filing a petition with the probate court and providing an inventory of the deceased's assets and debts.

5. Gifts

Finally, another way to avoid probate is by gifting your assets to your loved ones before you pass away. However, this option requires careful consideration and planning as it can impact taxes and eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid.

Dallas-Fort Worth Probate Attorneys

For those in Plano, TX, seeking to navigate the complexities of estate planning and probate avoidance, Crain & Wooley offers expert guidance and personalized solutions. With a deep understanding of both local and federal laws, our attorneys can help you craft an estate plan that ensures your assets are protected and your legacy is preserved. To learn more about our services and how we can assist you, contact us at (972) 945-1610. Let us help you find peace of mind for the future.

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