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Home > Blog > Estate Planning > What Is The Best Way To Avoid Probate?

What Is The Best Way To Avoid Probate?


If you have gone through the trouble of making a comprehensive estate plan, it is important to make sure that your loved ones will be able to have prompt and effective access to the inheritance you have left them. If you have left their inheritance with a will, this will not be the case. An estate must go to probate so that a judge can determine whether the existing will is valid before the assets can be dispersed. This can be a costly and time consuming process, which can also prevent the people that you care about from utilizing critical assets, such as bank accounts and your home. For this reason, it’s important to know how to avoid probate.

How Can I Avoid Probate?

All of a decedent’s assets must go to probate so that their estate can be settled. Settling an estate involves paying all debts and taxes before distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the decedent’s will or New York’s intestate succession statutes. Because all of a decedent’s assets must go to probate, the only way to avoid probate is to ensure that there are no assets solely in the decedent’s name at their time of death. Often the most effective and beneficial way to achieve this is by creating a living trust.

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust is an estate planning mechanism that allows you to transfer assets out of your ownership and into the ownership of the trust. A living trust allows you to still retain control of the trust, and provides a great amount of flexibility with regard to how you structure, manage, and amend the trust. For instance, a living trust allows you to change beneficiaries and to add or remove assets at any point during your lifetime. Other trusts also allow you to avoid probate, such as irrevocable trusts, however, they do not offer the same degree of flexibility that a living trust does. This makes living trusts the best option for most people who want to avoid probate.

Other Means of Avoiding Probate

Living trusts are not the only way to avoid probate, however, for most people, they will be the best. In many cases, however, a living trust will just be one part of a much larger estate plan that includes various estate planning mechanisms. Joint accounts with survivorship rights are one way of avoiding probate when applied to individual accounts, such as bank accounts or retirement accounts. If there is a co-account-holder with survivorship rights, they will automatically assume sole possession of the account upon the death of the other owner.

Contact Cavallo & Cavallo To Schedule a Consultation Today

If you are ready to develop a comprehensive estate plan or have questions about what type of trust might be right for you, the experienced Bronx & Westchester estate planning attorneys at Cavallo & Cavallo are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.



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