A Will is offered for probate to prove its validity and get the ball rolling on wrapping up your affairs. It’s good to name an executor to take on this role. But you can have a will and still avoid the expense of probate if you get your affairs in order. The primary way to avoid probate is to leave your assets to others in a way that they don’t pass under your Will. For example, these don’t require a Will:
- Jointly owned real estate will pass to a surviving co-owner.
- Life insurance will pass to a named beneficiary in a beneficiary designation form.
- All those IRA or retirement plan benefits will pass to a beneficiary named in the designation form.
- Jointly owned bank accounts will pass to the surviving co-owner.
Avoiding probate is possible, if you’re savvy enough to know what can be bypassed in a Will. In some cases this is easier said than done, but law is the ultimate expression of “knowledge is power.”