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Probate is a type of legal process a person’s estate may need to go through after the owner dies if that person did not have an estate plan to distribute assets to heirs and beneficiaries. Probate can be a long and complex process for family members to have to undergo.

As someone with property, assets, a business or other items you wish to leave to others after you pass, you could help your surviving family members avoid probate using a few different methods.

Establish a strong estate plan

The best way to avoid probate is to work out a comprehensive estate plan. Creating a unique estate plan for your individual needs and family can give you peace of mind about the future. Your estate plan can include trusts, powers of attorney and a will to outline exactly how you wish your estate administrator to divide properties and assets. A valid estate plan can help you prevent disputes and probate after death.

Assign a revocable living trust

A revocable living trust is someone you can establish for your estate with a written legal document. You have the power to designate someone as a trustee, giving that person responsibility for managing your assets in certain circumstances. A living trust can make it easy for an administrator to transfer your belongings to a selected trustee after death without going through probate.

Create payable-on-death accounts

A payable-on-death account is a special type of bank account that will send any remaining money directly to your chosen beneficiary after you die without requiring probate. You can turn your current bank or retirement accounts into payable-on-death accounts simply by naming a beneficiary on an official form from your bank or financial institution. Some states may let you also name a beneficiary for real estate deeds and vehicle registrations. With a bit of preplanning, you can help your family avoid probate after you pass on.

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