After you die, your estate will go through the Tennessee courts in a process called probate. This is when the court oversees the distribution of your assets and ensures all debts you owe are repaid.
Some people mistakenly believe if they create a will, their estate won’t be subjected to this process. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you want to help your family and beneficiaries avoid probate after you pass, you should take other steps now.
Reduce the assets in your estate
You can give away your property and assets while you are still alive, which will reduce the size of your estate. If the estate value is less than $50,000 and contains no real estate, it can be distributed as a Small Estate after filing an affidavit with the court, rather than under the full probate process. However, you should keep in mind that it means you are giving up control of these things while you are alive, so you must decide if this option will work for you.
Own property with someone
When it comes to joint ownership, you must ensure that you include a right of survivorship with the documents. This will ensure that the property doesn’t go through probate when you pass. Be aware, however, that a jointly held asset is subject to the creditor claims of either joint owner.
Use a trust
A trust and will are different. While a will outlines how you want your assets distributed after your death, a trust actually “holds” the assets, which your named trustee distributes after you pass. With this, it is possible to avoid probate completely because your assets have already been transferred to the trust. In most cases, you can also retain control over the assets during your lifetime.
Avoiding probate for your estate
When it comes to avoiding probate, you have several legal options. Remember that a will may not be enough to ensure your estate completely avoids the probate process. With the tips above, you will have a better chance of reducing the possibility of this after you pass. Keep this in mind as you create an estate plan.