Probate can take an enormous bite from your estate – your ranch and other real estate, vehicles, savings, everything. It also holds up distribution to your heirs. Is there a way around it?
There is not just one way – there are a dozen ways or more. It may require an attitude adjustment, but you can sidestep probate entirely.
The way to avoid probate is to avoid owning your estate. If the assets are not in your possession, they do not go through the probate process.
How to go about it
These are the most important ways people un-own their assets:
- They make gifts of assets to family members – the ranch, the real estate, your investments and savings. You simply sign it over to them.
- You put your assets in a living trust -- again, this can be real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, you name it.
- You can register U.S savings bonds in a POD (payable-on-death) account. The moment you die, the bonds go to the named individual.
- You can create a POD (payable-on-death) bank account. The moment you die, the funds belong to the other party.
- Likewise, you can place your stocks, bonds and mutual fund shares in a TOD (transfer-on-death) brokerage account
- You can continue to own assets, but in joint tenancy with another individual or group of individuals. The moment you die, ownership goes to those named individuals.
Obviously, responding to these measures requires a different perspective on what it means to own.
But all this is doable, and it works. It is also remarkably easy – sign, and you have avoided the probate process, and done your heirs a major favor.