Probate is a court action in which a judge will determine the validity of a will and resolve other issues related to your estate after you die. Of course, there are ways to avoid probate to ensure that your affairs can be settled promptly without anyone having to venture into a Missouri courtroom.
Put assets in a trust
Perhaps the easiest way to avoid probate is to put your belongings into a trust. As everything in the trust is held outside of your estate, it can exist after your pass. Ultimately, there is no need to distribute items held inside of it unless you instruct the trustee to do so. During your lifetime, you can be the trustee of a living revocable trust, meaning you’ll still have control of items that aren’t titled in your name.
Give assets away
You don’t have to worry about assets not being distributed in a timely manner if you give them away before your death. This can be done directly or with the help of an irrevocable trust that is directed to make gifts regularly during your lifetime. These gifts can be made to friends, family members or charitable organizations.
Make use of designations
Items with a beneficiary designation will automatically transfer to the intended recipient upon your death. Cars, homes and bank accounts are among the assets that can be transferred in such a way. If you use beneficiary designations, you should update them regularly to ensure you don’t accidentally pass assets to a former spouse or estranged family member.
Avoiding probate may make it easier to ensure that assets pass in a timely manner or minimize the risk of conflicts between family members. This is because the contents of a trust or other estate planning tools are typically kept private, which means that no one has to know what happened to your things after you leave this world.