Q:

What is the easiest way to avoid probate?

A:

Quick Answer

One of the easiest ways to avoid probate is to create a revocable living trust, which allows the decedent's living family members to transfer property quickly and efficiently. A married couple is able to use a single trust for separate property and co-owned property.

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Full Answer

To create a trust, an individual draws up a declaration of trust document that lists the trust maker as the trustee, who is the individual in charge of the property. A married couple who decides to create a living trust are listed as co-trustees. The trust maker or makers then shift ownership of a portion or the whole of their property to themselves as acting trustees, which allows the individual or individuals to not have to relinquish control over the listed property. Any property an individual lists in a trust does not become part of his probate estate, but the property is counted as a portion of his estate purely for federal estate tax purposes.

It's good to avoid probate since the process can potentially tie up property for several months or more. Probate can also be quite expensive, deducting as much as five percent from the value of an estate in some states. Probate fees include attorney's fees, executor fees and court costs.

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