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  • Nicole J. Zuvich

How do you avoid probate?

Updated: Sep 27

You want to give your loved ones one less thing to worry about when you die, which is one reason you invest so much time and energy in estate planning. To ensure your assets get to their intended benefactors faster, you may want your estate to avoid probate court.

NerdWallet offers tips for sidestepping the probate process. Learn how to do right by your heirs.

Distribute assets while alive

You do not have to wait until you die before distributing your assets. By giving away property now, you have fewer assets that may go through probate. Depending on the asset, distributing it now may help you avoid state and federal estate tax.

Have a modest estate

New York sets an exemption level for probate. If you have what the state considers a small estate, you could qualify for a faster probable process. It makes sense to keep up with the latest exemption limit, as you may have more room to work with than you think.

Make accounts payable on death

If you have the option, make bank accounts payable on death. That way, account assets go directly to your heirs without first passing through probate.

Set up a living trust

One great thing about trusts is any assets placed in a trust no longer belong to your estate. Instead, your trustee, not you, remains in control of assets in the trust. Your trustee must honor your wishes regarding how you want to distribute trust assets.

Neither you nor your benefactors need to endure the time and cost involved with probate court. With the right strategy, you remain in full control of your estate and all your assets.

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