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How To Avoid Probate (Will Substitutes)


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Probate takes time, exposes your affairs available to the public, and costs money -- perhaps as much as 5% of your estate.

Generally assets have to go through the probate process. However, assets can also pass to your heirs without going through probate. Perhaps the biggest advantages to avoiding probate are:

  • Your beneficiaries gain almost immediate access to your assets.
  • The passage of assets is difficult to challenge.
  • There are no probate costs to reduce the amount of the asset.

Since probate applies only to the assets in your Will, any property that passes by other means avoids probate. For example, property titled in "joint tenancy with a right of survivorship" automatically passes to the other named person, no matter what your Will says. The articles mentioned below discuss other methods of avoiding probate. The last one is a chart which compares the various methods.

If you are not familiar with the concept of probate, consider reading about probate before reading the rest of this one. 

Even if all of your valuable property passes by one of the means discussed in this article, it is advisable to also have a Will to take care of any property or questions that might not be accounted for.

When people become ill, a caregiver's name is frequently added to a bank account to make it easier to pay bills. If the person dies, the question often remains whether the intent was to give the caregiver additional money, or whether the rest of the distribution needs to be rebalanced.  If you add a caregiver to a bank account, either write a letter indicating that the balance in the account is to be an additional amount to the caregiver, or amend your Will. 

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Probate Wills 101

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