After your death, your loved ones may have to navigate a probate process that involves proving your will and administering your estate. In Virginia, the probate process may prove long, complex and costly, but there are certain estate planning steps you may be able to take to streamline probate and, in some cases, avoid it altogether.
According to NerdWallet, probate laws differ quite a bit from state to state, so what holds true in one location may not for another. However, if you want to try to avoid the probate process, consider doing the following.
1. Start distributing your wealth now
Having fewer assets in your estate to distribute is one way to shorten or avoid the probate process. If you have responsible adult children, you may want to think about giving them periodic distributions to lower the amount you have available at the time of your death.
2. Make accounts “payable upon death”
Virginia allows you to add a “payable on death” designation to your bank and other accounts. After your death, the assets in those accounts bypass probate and go straight to your named beneficiary.
3. Create a living trust
Many people looking to avoid probate choose to enter assets into trusts. A living trust is one estate planning tool that helps you avoid probate because the assets in the trust become the property of a trustee, rather than you.
While the probate process is often lengthy and complicated, it is also public. Many people seek to avoid probate because they do not want all the details of their estate and legacy becoming available for public viewing.