The probate process is fine for some estates, but you may find it helpful to put together an estate plan that lets you avoid it. Probate can sometimes last months or even years, during which time your assets become entangled and unavailable to your heirs.
CBS19 explains that you may also want to avoid probate because it makes your estate public. If you would rather not have the probate court publish the details of your estate, which will become your heirs’ assets, then probate is something to avoid. There are ways to set up your estate so it will not go through the probate process. Two of the easiest options are to create trusts and make use of survivorship rights.
With a trust, you bypass the probate process because you transfer your assets to the trust and then they no longer belong to your estate. The trust is a legal entity that owns the assets. You have a wide range of options for determining how the trustee handles the assets, from management to distribution.
For example, you may instruct the trustee to handle an investment portfolio in a certain way and distribute a set amount of the interest to each of your designated beneficiaries. You may want your heirs to receive an allowance until they complete their college education or reach a certain age, at which time the trustee will take that person’s portion of the assets from the trust and give them to him or her.
You can set up many assets so that they transfer immediately to your designated beneficiaries upon your death. You can do this with real estate you jointly own by adding a survivorship clause to the agreement. Insurance policies allow you to do this by naming a beneficiary. You can also create payable upon death arrangements for many types of financial accounts.