Roberts Wooten & Zimmer LLC
636-481-4088 636-797-2693

How do you avoid probate?

Everyone knows you're supposed to "avoid probate." But why, exactly?

Probate is the process in which all a person's worldly assets are listed, and the will - if there is a will - is put to the test.

Very often, probate spells trouble and delay for families. What many don't realize is that it is entirely avoidable. One powerful approach to minimizing the punishment of probate is to stop owning your own assets.

Who should go through probate?

Going willfully through probate is advisable mainly when your estate has problems that will benefit from review, such as complicated debt problems.

If you can avoid probate then, and you have significant assets (home and other real estate, cars, investments,and savings) you should consider doing so. It is not just for the very wealthy.

How to go about it

Very briefly, here are the most common ways people change their ownership status:

  1. They own all their real estate in joint tenancy with another party
  2. They make gifts of valuable assets (real estate, vehicles, etc.) to family members
  3. They create living trusts and then move key assets to the trust 
  4. They designate beneficiaries for retirement savings and pension plan distributions
  5. They designate beneficiaries for life insurance proceeds
  6. They give their bank accounts payable-on-death (POD) status
  7. They register U.S savings bonds as a POD status
  8. They place stocks, bonds and mutual fund shares in a transfer-on-death (TOD) brokerage account

All these methods change ownership so that the assets in question never figure into probate review.

It's easy, but you must be proactive

None of these actions is extraordinarily complicated. In most cases, most can be completed using a simple form. We at Roberts Wooten & Zimmer LLC can help with that.

Note that, even though your property never goes through probate, it is still essential to have a clear, legitimate will on file. Without a will, the courts will impose its own one-size-fits-all approach to distributing your life assets. We can help with that, too.

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Roberts Wooten & Zimmer LLC
10438 Business 21
P.O. Box 888
Hillsboro, MO 63050

Phone: 636-481-4088
Phone: 636-797-2693
Fax: 636-789-4205
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