How to Avoid Probate Court in the State of Georgia

For many people, probate seems to be an unavoidable reality of estate planning. Probate court is a tool that allows the terms of a will (or other estate planning tool) to be met by distributing assets to beneficiaries and navigating other details. Although this can be a helpful process for wrapping up posthumous affairs, it’s not always necessary, and can be time-consuming and stressful for a deceased person’s family.

There are ways that probate can be avoided. By carefully crafting your estate plan, you may be able to ensure that your loved ones will never have to enter probate court upon your death.

Establish a Trust

Trusts are one of the most common ways to avoid probate. Living trusts, in particular, allow you to set up terms that make probate an inessential part of the estate planning process. In a living trust, you can choose a trustee (who will be in charge of distributing your assets) and beneficiaries (who will receive your assets). With these roles laid out, your loved ones will not need to go to probate court to determine how your estate will be distributed.

Create “Payable-on-Death” or “Transfer-on-Death” Conditions

Certain types of assets can be classified as “payable-on-death” or “transfer-on-death.” Under these conditions, a beneficiary can be appointed, who will receive the assets upon the original owner’s death, without going through the probate process. In the state of Georgia, these terms can be applied to bank accounts and stocks and bonds, but vehicles and real estate cannot be transferred on death.

Own Assets Jointly, with “Right of Survivorship” Terms

It is not uncommon for property to be owned by multiple people, especially married couples or business partners. If this is the case with your house, car, or other assets, and those assets include “right of survivorship,” then it is likely that the property can be transferred to the other owner upon your death, without entering the probate process.

Create an Estate Plan that Meets Your Unique Needs

There are multiple estate planning tools available that can help to eliminate the need for probate. It is important to remember that these tools may only protect certain assets from probate court, and that the process may be unavoidable in certain situations. At Reed Leeper, P.C., our attorneys can help you understand how probate may play a role in your estate and craft a plan that works for you and your family.

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