Probate is a court process to analyze and transfer estate assets after someone dies. It can take a long time, delaying the distribution of assets to family members, and be expensive.
However, there are ways to structure your estate plan that will protect your loved ones from probate.
Create a living trust
A living trust resembles a will because you can use it to outline the distribution of your assets after your death. Where it differs from a will is that living trusts do not need to go through probate.
While you are alive, you act as the trustee and remain in control. You name a successor trustee who will take over upon your death and oversee the distribution of assets according to your wishes.
Designate a POD for bank accounts
To ensure your checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit go directly to the beneficiary, Indiana law also allows you to designate a “payable-on-death” heir. You control the accounts while you are alive, and upon your death, they go to the POD designation without going through probate.
Consider joint ownership
Indiana law recognizes the right of survivorship. Therefore, any property jointly owned will go to the surviving owner. Tenancy by the entirety refers specifically to real estate and the transfer of property between spouses.
Register a TOD for securities
If you own stocks and bonds, you can use a transfer-on-death form to register a beneficiary to inherit those securities.
In most cases, you can place the majority of assets safely in a living trust to protect them from probate.