As a general rule, most assets that are titled in your name at the time of your death are subject to probate. During probate, a judge is tasked with determining if your will is valid. If you don’t have a valid will, assets may be distributed in accordance with Ohio state law. However, there are several strategies that you can implement in an effort to avoid probate.
Give assets away during your lifetime
The easiest way to avoid probate is to simply transfer assets directly to beneficiaries while you’re still alive. If you intend to pass property to a minor, you’ll need to place it in a trust for that person’s benefit. Alternatively, you can give it to that person’s parent or guardian with the understanding that it be transferred to that individual when he or she is old enough to receive it.
Make use of beneficiary designations
A beneficiary designation allows you to transfer an asset without the need to go through probate. However, it’s important to note that the language of such a document generally trumps the instructions that you include in any other estate plan document. Therefore, you should review these documents regularly to ensure that a bank, brokerage or retirement account goes to an estranged relative after your death. An attorney who has experience with wills and probate may be able to talk more about the potential benefits of a beneficiary designation.
The use of trusts, beneficiary designations and other estate plan tools may allow your assets to pass without the need for probate. This may help to ensure that your beneficiaries receive their inheritance in a timely manner and without a lot of drama.