Some people may want to avoid probate because, during the probate process, information that one may want to keep private becomes public. The following are some approaches that may allow probate to be avoided, however, each may have unintended repercussions, consequently, involve a professional prior to making any decisions:

  • Small Estate Affidavit Procedure. Many states (although not all) have an affidavit process that allows probate assets of a limited size (which varies from state to state) to pass to a beneficiary without going through a formal probate process. Both personal and real property can be transferred with an affidavit. Typically, there is a required waiting period after the decedent’s death, and a petition for probate should not be filed. There are other specific requirements that vary from state to state, so those planning to use this method should contact a professional.
  • Payable on Death (POD) and Transfer on Death (TOD) Accounts. These stipulations allow assets to be transferred to the named entity upon the death of the owner.
  • Life Estate Interest. This agreement allows someone the right to use and/or occupy property until that person’s death.
  • Beneficiary Designations. Certain types of assets, such as life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, etc. allow for the naming of a beneficiary who will inherit the assets when the account holder dies.
  • Trusts. Trusts afford many benefits other than just probate avoidance, but there are many different types and their terms can be complex, so the assistance of a professional is recommended.

Source:, 10-22-06