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FAQ > The Basics > How can I avoid probate?

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It takes careful estate planning. Some of the ways to avoid probate include jointly owned assets with rights of survivorship or creating a living trust that is funded during your lifetime Also, assets such as IRAs, life insurance and pension plans can go directly to your designated beneficiary without probate. Since living trust assets avoid probate, individuals who value privacy place assets in their trust. Assets passing under a will do not have this benefit, since a will becomes a public document after a person’s death. Bank accounts and brokerage accounts can be transferred to individuals or charities in desired percentages by POD (Payable on Death) or TOD (Transfer on Death) designations added to those accounts. In some states, a beneficiary deed can transfer real estate to individuals or charities at your death without probate.