Can I Avoid Probate?

There are certain types of estate legal planning regarding your assets that could potentially avoid probate, although that does not mean that it will avoid death taxes (such as inheritance tax, federal estate tax). For example, the following assets will most likely not pass through probate:

  • Property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship, which passes automatically by law to the joint owner(s) on the death of the decedent (ex: joint bank accounts, real estate titled as joint with right of survivorship, stock in joint names with right of survivorship, etc.)
  • Certain retirement assets such as IRAs and 401(k) accounts and annuities which have a designated beneficiary as someone other than the estate of the decedent
  • Life insurance policies having a beneficiary other than the estate
  • Property that has been transferred to a Living Trust during the lifetime of the decedent
  • Certain accounts that are titled “In Trust For” or “Payable on Death” to designated beneficiaries other than the estate

Your attorney will review this planning with you, as there are often pros and cons to this type of planning to avoid probate and you need to be aware of these before you engage in this type of planning.