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Should you consider means to avoid the probate process?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2024 | Probate Litigation |

Keeping things as efficient as possible and eliminating the potential for disputes among heirs are probably two of the top priorities for most Maryland residents who are thinking about the immediate aftermath of their eventual passing. Fortunately, when creating a comprehensive estate plan, you have a multitude of different tools and options at your disposal that can put a lot of your worries and concerns to rest. One specific consideration for many is whether or not to eliminate the probate process from these future matters.     

While the probate court can ensure the validity of your will and the proper distribution of your assets, it also has the potential to create issues for your surviving family members. The process can become rather time-consuming, potentially lasting up to five years for high-net-worth individuals. It can also result in challenges to your will that can create a contentious environment between family members. Last but not least, probate can jeopardize your family’s privacy since the proceedings become a matter of public record.  

What specific actions can you take to avoid probate? 

If you are strongly considering eliminating the probate process from all matters involving the future inheritance of your estate, there are several different options that could be applicable to your unique situation. The most common of these include the following: 

  • Creating a trust: Trusts can allow your matters to stay private while also legally authorizing a trustee to distribute the assets as instructed.    
  • Establishing joint ownership of property: Owning certain property in conjunction with your spouse or another individual allows the transfer of those assets to occur without any involvement of the probate court.  
  • Using payable on death accounts: Bank and many other financial accounts provide you with this option that can direct the funds straight to a designated beneficiary upon your passing.  

The state of Maryland also offers expedited probate proceedings for estates with less than $30,000 in qualifying assets or less than $50,000 in qualifying assets in instances where a surviving spouse is the beneficiary. With so many options and complexities involved in the process, establishing a comprehensive estate plan that best fits your wishes and unique circumstances may seem overwhelming. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can carefully provide you with guidance and support on all estate-related matters, including the possibility of avoiding probate.