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Some assets can avoid probate court

Children find out that a will says something other than what they expected. Taxes or liens take a big bite out of the value of the estate. These are only some of the disadvantages of lacking a clear estate plan, which may send all the possible beneficiaries to probate court.

Probate court is not necessarily an unpleasant experience. Connecticut vests several basic powers in these courts to make them more accessible to all citizens. But people with any amount of value in their estates may find it useful to avoid probate court for several of their assets.

Homes, properties and other real estate may be set up as a joint ownership, which is often part of buying real estate as a married couple. The advantage of joint ownership is that legal possession automatically goes to the surviving owner upon the death of one owner.

Financial assets may also be set up to default to survivors of an estate's holder. Payable-on-death (POD) accounts are good places to keep money intended for inheritors, and retirement accounts may also be prepared to automatically transfer value to others.

Properties may also be included in living trusts, which another person or party takes over ownership of a property while the original owner reserves the right to revoke. These trusts skip probate because the new ownership is respected.

Anyone looking to simplify probate litigation or avoid it for important parts of an estate may seek legal counsel on how to protect these assets. An attorney can work with estate holders and potential inheritors to make this difficult process a little easier.

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