Estate planning? You can save your family time, money and peace of mind with a few easy steps. Probate court proceedings can drag on for years, and the costs--lawyer's fees, appraisal fees, court fees -- can easily eat up thousands of dollars that would otherwise go to your family.
Luckily, there are simple and effective ways to completely avoid probate. Some are so simple that they can be taken care of in the time it takes to open a bank account-and most of them won't cost you a penny.
With 8 Ways to Avoid Probate, learn how to take advantage of eight important -- and often overlooked -- probate-avoidance strategies:
set up payable-on-death bank accounts
name a beneficiary for retirement accounts
register stocks & bonds, and vehicles, in transfer-on-death forms
hold property in joint ownership
take advantage of special procedures for small estates
create a living trust
give away property now Updated state-by-state charts show you which probate-avoidance techniques are available where you live. 8 Ways to Avoid Probate also contains detailed examples of how combining probate-avoidance methods can work for you in different stages of your life.