When one thinks of "wills" one of the first words that come to mind is "probate." While wills are certainly one type of document that will go through probate, there are times when the creator of an estate plan in Maryland may wish to skip the probate process altogether. After all, probate can be expensive and can take a long time to complete. With that in mind, what types of estate planning documents can avoid probate?
Although it is necessarily an estate planning document such as a will or trust, gifts in general do not go through probate. While it takes careful planning to appropriately give away an asset, it can be done. However, it may be best to only give away smaller assets, to avoid the gift tax.
Another estate planning document that may not go through probate is a revocable trust. In this type of trust, the creator of the trust puts assets into the trust to be controlled by a trustee, but can take the assets back if desired. Since the assets in the trust after the creator's death are not part of the creator's remaining estate, they may not go through probate.
In addition, certain types of jointly owned property may avoid probate. This is true if the property contains the right of survivorship. In essence, what this means is that if a piece of property transfers to the living joint owner of the property, it may not go through probate.
Finally, certain types of death beneficiaries may not go through probate. For example, retirement accounts often name a beneficiary. Upon the account holder's death, the assets in the retirement account belong to the beneficiary and will in general not go through probate.
As this shows, there are ways to avoid probate. However, none of the above information can be considered legal advice, since each person's specific situation is unique. However, this does provide some general information about probate and how to avoid it.