• McNickle & Bonner

4 Ways You Can Avoid Probate Through Estate Planning

Without proper estate planning, probate can be prolonged and expensive stress for your surviving families.


So, as you prepare your last will and other end-of-life documents, you should try as much as possible to avoid probate for the sake of those you will be leaving behind.


Before we go into details on how you can avoid probate through estate planning, let's talk about what probate means and why it is sometimes needed.


What is probate, and why is it sometimes needed?

Probate is a court-supervised policy of finalizing a deceased estate and distributing other properties among heirs.


Although probate can be frustrating for surviving families, especially after dealing with the loss of their loved one, the probate court has the importance of ensuring that the wishes of the deceased are carried out and respected.


In what ways can I avoid probate?

Many people are now concerned with avoiding probates because of the period it takes to distribute assets.

Since it's a lengthy court process, it sometimes takes years to gather assets and pay off debts and taxes, which will eventually cause a dip in the assets that are meant to go to your loved ones. Here are ways you can avoid probate:

  1. Write a revocable living trust This is one of the common ways of avoiding probate. An estate planning lawyer can help you create a trust where you can add and remove assets during your lifetime. After your death, the person you appointed as the successor trustee manages the assets in the trust and carries out your instructions. All of these happen when you're alive, so the court doesn't have to prove through a probate that everything is carried out according to your wish.

  2. Jointly owned property For married couples, this is an excellent way to avoid probate. You can own a property with another person through joint tenancy, where the owners are joint tenants of a property, and the survivor can take full ownership of the property upon the other owner's death.

  3. Giving out property If you pass ownership of an asset to someone in your lifetime, you should not add that particular asset to your will. This way, it can't go through any probate process as it now has a new owner chosen by you.

  4. Name beneficiaries for bank accounts You can assign beneficiaries to your financial accounts, including savings, checking, and retirement accounts. After your demise, the account will transfer directly to the beneficiary you named. However, it’s crucial to designate beneficiaries when you are in good health.


This article is written to enlighten you on different ways to avoid probate. However, if you still have questions, call us at 724-458-9550. Our estate planning attorneys will provide you with all the answers and solutions you need regarding estate law.