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How to Avoid Probate Costs

The bad news: probated estates are subject to a variety of costs from attorneys, executors, appraisers, accountants, courts, and state law. Depending on the probate’s complexity, and the size of the estate, fees can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The bad news: probated estates are subject to a variety of costs from attorneys, executors, appraisers, accountants, courts, and state law. Depending on the probate’s complexity, and the size of the estate, fees can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The good news: probate costs can be reduced by avoiding probate in Pennsylvania. It’s really that simple.

Here are four simple ways to avoid probate costs by avoiding probate:

Name a Beneficiary.

The probate process determines who gets what when there is no beneficiary designation. So, naming a beneficiary is the easiest way to avoid probate. Common beneficiary designation assets include:

  • Life Insurance
  • Annuities
  • Retirement plans

TOD Accounts

Transfer on Death Accounts offers one of the easiest ways of keeping money out of probate. By filling out a form with your bank, and providing the name of an individual you want to receive the money upon your death, the account will bypass the probate process. As long as you are alive, the person you designate has no right to the money, and this designation can be changed at any time.

Own Property Jointly

Probate can be avoided if the property you own is held jointly with a right of survivorship. There are several ways that you can establish joint ownership of property such as:

  • Tenancy by the entirety – is a form of joint tenancy with right of survivorship, but only for married couples in some states; (including Pennsylvania)
  • Joint tenancy with right of survivorship – ownership simply transfers to other tenants upon your death.
  • Community property – property obtained during a marriage in some states; (not Pennsylvania)

Create and Fund a Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust owns your property, yet you remain in charge of all legal decisions until your death. After your death, your named trustee manages your assets – according to your wishes. A trust works well if properly created and funded by an experienced estate planning attorney. State laws play an important role here. We can help you determine which form of joint ownership, if any, is a good fit for you. We have the Tools to Help You Contact our office today. We’ll help you decide whether it makes sense to avoid probate in your particular case and, if so, the best way to do so.

Mar 4, 2016 | Articles, Estate Planning

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