The National Directory of Certified Public Accountants

Ask A CPA - Probate

Can Probate Be Avoided?

One strategy to avoid Probate is through the use of a "Living" or Inter-vivos Revocable Trust. During the lifetimes of the individuals a Trust is created, husband and wife are both the Trustees of the Trust, so they have complete control of it. The Trust is amendable and can be changed at any time by the individuals who created it. When one or both individuals die there is no Probate, provided the individuals took the time while they were living to transfer all of their assets into their Trust. This entails the retitling of assets such as bank accounts, real estate, and stock brokerage accounts into the name of the trust. During their lifetimes, these individuals name who they want to be their trust's successor trustee. The successor trustee could be a family member, friend, an advisor or bank. When death occurs, the surviving spouse typically takes over as the successor trustee and manages the assets. Then when the surviving spouse dies, the successor trustee named in the trust takes over and distributes the assets according to the terms the individuals stated in their trust. There are also other strategies available. Speak to your local CPA or attorney for more details.

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