The death of a loved one is one of the most challenging experiences to endure. The last thing families want to think about after a loved one passes is how the estate will be handled. However, if a loved one passes in the state of Michigan without a plan in place, his or her estate may end up in probate. Probate is basically the lengthy process of distributing the deceased person’s property. Here are a few ways probate can be avoided.
A living trust
Trusts may be one of the best ways to avoid the probate process. A living trust is a legal document in which the grantor retitles property and assets in the name of the trust and authorizes a trustee to manage the assets. Trusts typically avoid probate because the property and assets held within a trust are not part of the deceased person’s estate upon his or her death. In a trust, the trustee technically controls the property in the trust and distributes the contents of the trust under the terms of the trust agreement.
Own property jointly
Property owned jointly usually automatically passes to the surviving owner(s) when one owner dies. For example, if spouses buy a property together (jointly) and the husband passes, the property would go directly to the wife without having to go through probate. A few ways to hold assets and property jointly include joint tenancy with right of survivorship, community property with right of survivorship and tenancy by the entirety.
Knowing that property and assets are taken care of and will not need to go through the lengthy and public probate process can bring peace of mind. Those in Michigan who have questions or want to know more about estate planning and probate may want to consider contacting an experienced legal representative. A knowledgeable attorney can answer difficult questions and help families create a plan to fit their specific needs.