Contracting out of the probate process?
The answer is yes. However, it will also take planning by making sure that you have proper beneficiary designations on your stuff or using a trust based plan.
Many folks don’t want their families to have to go through the probate process after they pass away. They are possibly concerned about privacy or fees or some other issues. There are a bunch of ways to contract out of the probate process:
A trust is a contract between the Grantor and the Trustee to manage and potentially distribute property or income that the trust owns. So one way of contracting out of probate, is preparing a trust, and titling your property to the trust, which is also called “funding the trust.” If your stuff is in your trust when you pass away, you don’t actually own the stuff individually, so your stuff will be managed under the terms of the (contract) trust agreement.
All your bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance and the such can be distributed at your passing through a beneficiary designation. For instance, you leave your life insurance or bank account to your three children equally.
Although this may not be the best way, you can have your real estate pass to whoever you want by operation of law at the time of your passing by deeding the property to the person(s) that you want to have the property. There are a number of ways to do this. You can retain a life estate in the property and deed the remainder of your property to your loved one or you can get a transfer on death deed prepared.
The point of this article is that folks have many choices when preparing their estate plan, and there is not a perfect plan, only a plan that will meet your individual needs.