How to Avoid Probate When Real Estate Is the Only Asset to Transfer


When you die, your assets will go to someone else, depending on the terms of your will and other estate planning documents you have. If you have only real estate to transfer, you could potentially transfer it to a beneficiary without forcing that person to go through the probate process. Probate can be a long, drawn out, potentially costly process. Your beneficiaries will appreciate being able to take ownership of your real estate without experiencing probate.

Things You'll Need

  • Property title
  • Trust

Add the name of the beneficiary to the property title. This will create a scenario in which you own the property jointly with your beneficiary. Simply visit the title office and arrange for the addition of the beneficiary’s name to the title. You can usually do this for a nominal fee. When you die, the joint owner of the property will automatically assume ownership without probate. This is often the way that spouses will hold a piece of real estate.

Set up a trust with the help of an estate planning attorney. A trust will facilitate the transfer of property ownership. You can put property into the trust, and then it will transfer to a beneficiary upon your death. A trustee will manage the trust on your behalf. You can specify exactly when you want the property transfer to occur, or it can happen shortly after your death. You could even set conditions that must precede the transfer. Setting up the trust itself is relatively simple and doable with an attorney for a nominal fee.

Transfer ownership of the real estate to the trust. The process of changing the name on the title to your trust is similar to adding a name to the title. The name of the trust, not your name, must appear on the property title. Once you transfer the property to the trust, you can continue to use the property. Upon your death, the beneficiary of the trust will not have to go through probate to gain possession of the real estate.

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