Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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How to avoid the probate process

No one, in the history of mankind, has ever used the words "fun" to describe the probate process. In fact, it can be so drawn out, complicated and expensive that most people look for a way around it at all costs. Luckily, there are ways to get around it.

During the estate planning process with an attorney, ask about these possibilities to avoid probate:

Joint property ownership. Joint property ownership is exactly what is sounds like: you jointly own property with someone, and upon death, that property is automatically passed to that person. To do it, you'll need to file the right paperwork detailing the "right to survivorship," the property that's jointly owned and your relationship with the other owner.

Gifts. It may seem obvious, but giving away assets and property before you pass is one surefire way to avoid probate. Gifts up to a certain dollar amount are exempt from taxes.

Living trusts. Trusts make your property the property of someone else with one caveat: they must use it the way you dictate. This means you can add a clause that has them distributing the assets after your death, thus circumventing the probate process.

These are just a few of the ways to get out of probate. There are several other options available to you depending on your situation. If you come to an attorney and tell them your wishes, they may be able to help you maximize your estate while minimizing the taxes your beneficiaries will have to deal with.

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Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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