Before we take a look at a couple of simple probate avoidance tools, let's examine the reasons why people avoid probate in the first place. For one thing, probate can be quite time-consuming. Depending on the complexity of the estate and whether or not the will is being challenged it can take anywhere from 6-9 months to even multiple years in complicated cases. In addition to the time involved, probate can be expensive, consuming up to 5% of your estate, in addition to extraordinary costs, again depending on the complexity of the matter and the size and scope of your assets.
So if you want to save time and money you may want to arrange for the transfer of assets outside of probate. One way to do this is through the creation of pay on death accounts. You simply open the account at a bank or financial institution of your choosing and name a beneficiary. Should you pass away, your beneficiary would assume ownership of the funds in the account, and this transfer would take place outside of probate. It's as simple as that.
In some states, including Nevada, you can execute a deed conveying your real proeprty to a beneficiary upon your death. Even though the deed is recorded while your are alive the conveyance does not occur until after your death.
Another way to transfer assets to your loved ones outside of probate is to give tax-free gifts. You can give up to $13,000 to an unlimited number of recipients each year free of the gift tax, in essence giving loved ones a part of their inheritance while you are still alive and before probate would be a factor. Other tax free gifts can be made.
And finally, purchasing life insurance is also a very simple but effective and efficient way to provide inheritances to your family members outside of the process of probate.
These ideas are something to keep in mind as you are contemplating your legacy. But in the end, the best way to implement a comprehensive probate avoidance strategy is with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney who will recommend the ideal combination of estate planning tools given the unique nature of your situation.