How To Avoid Probate Issues Among The Beneficiaries Of An Estate

You can take action to avoid strife among your beneficiaries by making specific bequests and provide a clear division of the estate. Family members will often suffer irreparable rifts over inheritances and division of estate assets, so it's best to try to solve the problems before they occur.

Structuring the will

Your home

If you are married, you must be certain that your home and other major assets are jointly owned with your spouse. If the deed to your home is in your name only because it was purchased before your marriage and you want to leave it to your spouse, have her name added to the title now so, in the event of your passing, the home is automatically transferred to your spouse without going through probate.

If you are unmarried and wish to divide the home among your children, organize a family meeting to determine if any individual beneficiary wishes to keep the home. If so, you can allocate other assets to the remaining beneficiaries and leave the home to the single beneficiary that wishes to keep it. If no one expresses a desire to keep the home, you can leave specific instructions in the will that the home is to be sold upon your passing and the proceeds distributed evenly among the beneficiaries.

This will deter any beneficiaries who later balk at the sale and keep the home in legal limbo in an attempt to wrest an additional share of the estate by forcing other family members to capitulate and settle for less than their share in order to settle the matter.

Your vehicle

If one individual beneficiary would like to keep the vehicle, you can add their name to the title as a co-owner so the vehicle will avoid the probate process. You can then check the retail value of the car online and allocate additional assets that match the value of the vehicle to the remaining beneficiaries of your estate.

Personal items

Gather your beneficiaries together and let them choose specific items that they would like to have from the estate. However, it can't devolve into a "supermarket sweep" where family members are running through your home claiming your possessions before you're gone.

Give each beneficiary a small sticker or post-it tab and allow each to take turns placing their sticker on one individual item at a time. If there is a dispute over an item, settle it now with compromise rather than have some family members cause a scene later. 


Cash will be inaccessible to your beneficiaries until a probate judge allows assets to be distributed, but you can allow your beneficiaries to receive some of the money by adding one of them to a bank account as a shared account holder. After your passing, the rest of the cash will be transferred to an estate account and tied up in probate, but the money in the shared account can be used by the shared account holder beneficiary at any time.

Of course, it must be a family member that you trust completely, and one that doesn't mind the burden of the task of dealing with potentially greedy family members.

Probate and inheritances are complicated and made more so by beneficiaries who sometimes act out of character, and often reveal their true character when money is involved. This is why it's a good idea to hire a probate lawyer as the executor of the will, rather than a family member. 

A probate lawyer will know all of the procedures and regulations and will act in the best interests of the estate in a professional and impersonal manner. Contact local probate lawyers for more information and assistance.