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How can you avoid probate court?

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Quick Answer

Avoiding probate court can be done by establishing a revocable living trust, implementing pay-on-death accounts and registrations, and giving someone joint ownership in property, according to Nolo. Almost every state offers some type of short-cut or a way to avoid probate altogether.

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Living trusts hold property and prevent it from becoming part of the probate estate. A trustee holds the property, and after the death of the owner, the trustee can transfer the property to the designated heirs, avoiding probate, as stated by Nolo. Converting bank and retirement accounts to payable-on-death accounts is a great way to transfer the money directly to the beneficiary upon the owner's death, which keeps the money out of the estate.

There are a few forms of joint ownership that provides a way for property to stay out of probate when the owner dies: joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, tenancy by the entirety, or community property with rights of survivorship. The title documents to the property outlines how title is held, per Nolo.

Gifting property helps avoid probate and lowers probate costs. As a general rule, the higher the value of the assets that go through probate, the higher the fees and costs are for going through the probate process. Also, most gifts are not subject to the federal gift tax, according to Nolo.

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