Probate does not have a very good connotation for many in Tennessee. After all, probate can be a time-consuming and expensive process that can possibly lead to a reduction in the size of your estate. There are ways, however, to avoid probate through estate planning.
Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) accounts
Some bank accounts allow you do execute a Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) document. This document designates a beneficiary to whom these assets will go following your death without having to be probated.
Real property owned as joint tenants
Some people in Tennessee co-own a home or land with another person. This is called having joint tenancy with right of survivorship or, if the owners are married to one another, tenancy by the entirety. Once one owner passes on, their share in the property goes straight to the surviving co-owner without having to be probated.
Life insurance policies
If you have a life insurance policy, you will have designated a beneficiary to that policy. When you die, the funds from the life insurance policy will go directly to the named beneficiary on the policy without passing through probate. It is important to review these beneficiaries periodically, however, to ensure you still want them to obtain these assets upon your death and that they are able to.
A living trust or revocable trust is another means for avoiding probate. Assets are transferred from your name into the trust. Thus, when you die these assets are not counted as part of your probated estate, because they are owned by the trust.
Estate planning is crucial to avoiding probate
Those in Tennessee who wish to avoid probate, will want to make sure they take the steps necessary to execute a comprehensive estate plan that meets their wishes. This post does not contain legal advice. Estate planning attorneys may be a useful resource to those who have questions about probate.