You may have heard horror stories about the probate process, and the process can indeed be costly, time-consuming and lead to legal disputes. It also means your estate becomes a matter of public record, which might be something you do not want.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process that involves the distribution of your property after your death, either according to the terms of your will or Pennsylvania probate laws, if you die without a will.
There are several steps that you can take to avoid probate. This can give you peace of mind that your assets and financial affairs will be taken care of and go to the people you want after you die.
Set up a trust
One of the best ways to avoid probate is to place your assets into a trust. You can create a revocable trust or an irrevocable trust.
A revocable trust lets you retain control of the assets during your lifetime, so you can add or remove assets from the trust or change beneficiary information.
Review all your accounts and assets and determine which ones allow you to choose a beneficiary to receive ownership after your death. Ownership will then automatically transfer, allowing these assets to remain out of probate.
Putting any property that you own into joint ownership can also help it avoid probate. This can happen automatically in some situations, such as property you own with a spouse, but if it doesn’t, you can set up joint ownership now.
This means the property goes to the joint owner upon your death. You can generally do this with any type of property, including houses, cars, boats or any other real or personal property.
These steps can involve complex paperwork and require detailed planning but can help your loved ones avoid the stress and headaches of probate.