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Probate involves the legal proceedings required to establish the legitimacy of a deceased individual’s will, carry out any wishes specified in it, pay off debt and distribute assets appropriately. This process is often long and rather pricey, especially if other parties contest the terms of the will.

Resolving any issues that arise during probate may actually cost more than the estate is worth, as well as being time consuming. There do exist actions that may help ease or avoid it.

1. Set up a living trust

With living trusts, you place your effects into a trust that you control while alive. A successor trustee handles it after your death, making sure everything goes to who you desire it to. These trusts do not pass through probate.

2. Pay off your debt

In North Carolina, heirs are generally not held legally responsible for the departed person’s debt. However, appropriation of the inheritance you leave behind may take place in part or wholly to pay off any creditors you owe. In the end, your beneficiaries may end up receiving nothing, and the process may take even longer. Basically, your heirs may still pay even if not through direct financial methods. Ensuring that you have covered all of your dues beforehand may save them trouble and help them secure the assets you wish them to.

3. Create a payable upon death (POD) account

POD accounts directly grant their contents to the named inheritors upon your passing away. While it does come with negatives, the bottom line is that these bypass probate completely.

Taking steps to avoid probate may save those you leave behind a great deal of hassle, time and funds. It may also help make sure the legacy you wish to go to them actually passes on to them in full.