How can I avoid probate?

Minnesota estate planning attorney Karen Schlotthauer explains how to avoid probate.

Contact Karen Schlotthauer

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (612) 336-9324


First of all, you can die without any probate assets. Probate assets are assets that don’t have any kind of built-in mechanism to get them to someone following your death. Examples would be a bank account owned by you in your name individually. Perhaps you own real estate with a brother as tenant in common or perhaps you’re a partner in a partnership. Those are all probate assets, and they’re controlled by your will or state law.

Non-probate assets, on the other hand, they do have a built-in mechanism to get to someone following your death. And examples would be any asset that utilizes a beneficiary designation. So life insurance, retirement plans, annuities. As long as the beneficiary is an individual and not your estate, it will go directly to that person. Other examples, real estate, bank accounts that you might own as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. That will automatically go to the surviving joint tenant. Perhaps you’ve transferred assets to a revocable trust. That, too, constitutes non-probate assets and not subject to the probate proceeding.