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Probate can be avoided when necessary

Keeping an estate out of probate is at the top of many people's estate planning wish lists. Probate does of course have its place in the estate administration process, but it can create unnecessary headaches and lengthy time commitments when not needed. For those in Massachusetts hoping to keep their estate out of probate, there are different steps that can help achieve that goal.

Placing assets in a revocable living trust is an effective way to pass on assets with ease and avoid probate all in one fell swoop. A trust must name all beneficiaries and what asset or property they are to receive. Upon the trust owner's death, assets can be distributed in an efficient manner without the hassle of probate. 

Perhaps even easier than establishing a trust is creating joint ownership or tenancy of an asset. While not appropriate for all assets, the simplest form of joint ownership is practiced automatically by married couples. Upon one spouse's death, the ownership of the jointly owned asset automatically shifts to the surviving party. There are also examples of non-married couples entering into joint tenancy in order to easy pass along an asset after death, although it is less common.

While probate can prove to be valuable for especially large or valuable estates, it is not appropriate or even necessary for every estate. Probate can have several implications when it is not truly needed, including financial burdens. Because of this, people in Massachusetts can take preventative measures in order to keep their estate from entering a probate court.

Source: NerdWallet, "5 Smart Estate-Planning Steps to Avoid Probate", James E. Salter, Feb. 10, 2016

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