How to Protect Assets during Probate
Many people learn about how stressful and time-consuming probate is and look for options to avoid probate. There are methods to establish beneficiary designations for assets outside of probate.
Many types of assets will avoid probate in Pennsylvania, including:
- Real estate with joint tenancy with a right of survivorship or tenancy by the entirety: If you jointly owned real estate with your spouse, the property should transfer directly to the surviving spouse and skip probate.
- Payable on death accounts: Bank accounts can be assigned a “payable on death” provision that transfers funds to a named beneficiary.
- Life insurance policies and retirement accounts: If these types of accounts pay out to named beneficiaries, the funds should transfer without going through probate
- Additional money from bank accounts: A surviving spouse or another immediate relative can often procure up to $10,000 from the deceased’s bank account while avoiding probate, so long as they provide a valid death certificate.
In the appropriate case, these can be effective options for establishing non-probate assets.
Revocable Living Trusts and Probate Protection
Another popular option for avoiding probate is a revocable living trust.
In most cases, the client will name themselves as the initial trustee and beneficiary of the trust. In the case of a married couple, both parties will usually be named as the trustee and beneficiary. The client will then transfer assets such as real estate, bank account, and brokerage accounts to the trust.
Because of the terms of the trust, the client will have complete control over all the assets transferred into the trust. Upon the client’s death, the trust will have the same sort of dispositive provisions usually found in a will. The trust will provide for a successor trustee. This trustee will then be able to distribute the assets in the trust without having to go through probate.
This saves the family the delays and costs of probate. In addition, trust administration is a private process. The only people who will know what the deceased owned are the trustee and the beneficiaries.
The Benefits of Hiring a Probate Attorney
Our Berks County probate lawyer, attorney Jeff Dorko, can advise executors and personal representatives as they administer the estate.
Jeff is very familiar with all aspects of probate in Pennsylvania and understands how to handle each stage of the process. He can work with you to avoid common mistakes that can prolong probate. We can help you take proactive steps that can protect the estate from incurring unnecessary fees.
We are fully aware of the hardship inherent to any probate scenario. Our estate attorneys will strive to give your case the compassionate and individualized attention it deserves.