It can take a while to process an estate through probate. When you also factor in the costs involved and the public nature of probate court, you probably want to exclude as much of your estate as possible from the probate process.
Fortunately, U.S. News and World Report describes a variety of ways to allow your family to inherit your property without the need to go through probate.
Accounts with beneficiaries
Just about any of your assets with a beneficiary designation should avoid probate. This is because, upon your death, the asset will pay its benefits directly to anyone named as a beneficiary.
Common examples of beneficiary-assigned assets include retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and annuities. Your workplace may have a pension you can assign to a family member. Your life insurance policy also pays out to whoever you name as a beneficiary.
Transfer ownership upon death
It is possible to make a provision for some of your accounts and properties to transfer ownership to another person after you die. These include pay-on-death and transfer-on-death designations. Similarly, you can own property in a joint tenancy arrangement with a right of survivorship provision to give your ownership interest to a co-owner following your death.
Property in a trust
A trust is a separate form of conveying property and money to beneficiaries. Depending on your priorities, you can create a revocable or irrevocable trust. You may also condition your trust to pay out according to specific thresholds and conditions your beneficiaries must meet.
Employing these methods may decrease the number of assets that go through probate. As a result, probate for your remaining assets could go faster and lessen the burden on your family.