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How to avoid probate

Probate can be a lengthy and expensive legal process that can make heirs wait up to years to receive ownership of assets that were bequeathed to them. Individuals in Nevada can take certain steps avoid probate so that their beneficiaries will not have to endure the process.

There are four ways individuals can pass on property to an heir without having the property undergo the probate process. These options include gifts, death beneficiaries, revocable living trusts and joint property ownership.

Gifting may be one of the simplest ways to avoid probate. It may require some planning and should be used to avoid probate for smaller assets that are not of extravagant value.

Certain financial assets allow an individual to designate another person as a beneficiary. Once the individual dies, ownership of the asset automatically transfers to the beneficiary and probate is avoided as the assets are no longer part of the decedent's estate. This is commonly used for financial assets like retirement accounts or payable on death accounts.

A revocable living trust allows ownership of assets to pass to a trustee while the original owner uses the assets according to the terms of the trust. The assets will no longer be a part of the original owner's estate and therefore won't have to go through probate.

With joint property ownership, probate will be avoided because when the deceased owner ceases to own the property, it will automatically pass to the living joint owner. The ways in which this can be implemented will vary from state to state.

An attorney can guide a client through the estate planning process and offer suggestions as to what type of estate planning tools would be appropriate for the client's financial situation. The attorney may advise a client on wealth protection for his or her heirs.

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