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Why should I avoid probate?

Once you begin looking into estate planning options, you very quickly begin running into the same word repeatedly — "probate." The process of probate doesn't extend far outside of estate reconciliation, so it may be an unfamiliar concept if you're just now beginning your estate planning journey. Probate is the process by which the state distributes the property of a deceased person to his or her heirs. Property that passes through probate may lose value or incur taxes, leaving the heirs with much less than the decedent intended.

To this end, most people who consider estate planning take great care to avoid the probate process as much as possible. Depending on the nature and value of your assets, the state you live in and the steps you take to avoid probate, you may prevent significant losses to your estate as it passes to your beneficiaries.

You may have a number of probate avoidance options available, so be sure to seek out a professional assessment to help you understand the full scope of the issues at hand. Estate planners may use various tactics to avoid probate, including

  • Placing property in multiple parties' names
  • Placing property in a trust
  • Dispersing property prior to death using personal gift exemptions

While these are not the only methods of mitigating probate, they are among the most common. To determine which methods suit your needs well, you can consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. This professional guidance protects your interests as you explore all the estate planning tools available to accomplish your goals and avoid probate as much as possible.

Source: Findlaw, "Avoiding the Probate Process," accessed Oct. 27, 2017

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