Extraordinarily Helpful: How To Avoid Probate!

On one of many blog sites we scour for new content to share with you, the information below was offered by a helpful citizen who had seen a friend deal with the messy and lengthy probate court situation after a family member passed. In a hind-sight mentality, this is a wonderful guideline to take to heart right now if you haven’t got your affairs in order already!

  1. Make sure all bank accounts have direct beneficiaries. The beneficiary then need only go to the bank with your death certificate and an ID of their own.
  2. TOD = Transfer On Death deed if you own a home. Completing this document and filing it with the court saves your heirs thousands. This document allows you to transfer ownership of your home to your designee. All they need to do is take their ID and your Death Certificate and they will then have the deed signed over. Doing this will avoid the home having to go through probate.
  3. Living Will: Allows one to put in writing exactly what you want done in the event you cannot speak for yourself when it comes to healthcare decisions.
  4. Durable Power of Attorney: Allows one to designate a person to make legal decisions if one is no longer competent to do so.
  5. Power of Attorney for Healthcare: This document allows one to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for their person.  This is different than a Durable Power of Attorney.
  6. Last Will and Testament: Designates to whom personal belongings will go too.  Without a legal will, it is Intestate: When a person dies intestate, deciding how their assets will be distributed becomes the responsibility of a state probate court. An intestate estate can also be one in which the will presented to the court was deemed to be invalid.
  7. Funeral Planning Declaration: States one’s wishes as far as disposition of the body and the service/s.
If the above documents are completed, you can AVOID probate. If all the above is not done, you have to open an estate account at the bank. All money that doesn’t have direct beneficiaries goes into this account. You have to have your executor to open the estate account. The executor also has to publicize your death in the newspaper or post publication at the courthouse, to allow anyone to make a claim on your property.
It’s a complete nuisance.  Therefore:
– Make a list of all banks and account numbers, all investment institutions with account numbers, lists of credit cards, utility accounts, etc. Leave clear instructions as to how and when these things are paid. Make sure heirs knows where life insurance policies are located.
– Make 100% sure SOMEONE knows your Apple ID, bank ID account logins and passwords!
– Make sure you have titles for all automobiles, campers, motorcycles etc and heirs know where they are located.
– MOST IMPORTANTLY: Talk with those closest to you and make all your wishes KNOWN. Talk to those whom you’ve designated, as well as those close to you whom you did not designate.  Do this to explain why your decisions were made and to avoid any lingering questions or hurt feelings.
Hope this lights a spark to encourage all your friends and family to take care of these things and to make it easier for those we all leave behind. The above list at least helps you start an important conversation with your loved ones.