If real estate is the only asset that an individual owns at the time of his or her death, it may be possible to avoid probate. One such strategy is to title the real estate in the name of a living trust. This allows the owner of the property to name a beneficiary who will receive the property after the current owner passes away.
Another way to avoid probate is to create a joint tenancy situation with survivorship rights. In that scenario, the person who is also on the deed will receive sole ownership of the property after the other person on the deed passes on. In community property states, it is important to note that real estate is community property that is to go to a surviving spouse.
By avoiding probate, it may be possible to reduce the time it takes for assets to be passed down to heirs or other intended beneficiaries. It may also allow the transfer to happen without being part of the public record. Finally, avoiding probate may be able to save an estate thousands of dollars. When creating a living trust for real estate or changing a real estate deed, it may be beneficial to talk to an estate planning attorney.
An attorney may be able to make sure that the real estate in the trust is properly titled. If it is not, the trust could be voided. In the event that the deed is changed to reflect a joint tenancy status, an attorney may be able to check to make sure that the title is worded properly. This may reduce the odds of a legal challenge holding up the transfer of assets or denying an intended beneficiary the right to take possession of property intended for them.