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8 Ways to Avoid Probate [Paperback]

Mary Randolph

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Publisher's Comments on 8 Ways to Avoid Probate
Probate court proceedings can drag on for years, and the costs—lawyer’s fees’ appraisal fees, court fees—can easily eat up thousands of dollars that would otherwise go to your family. Luckily, there are simple and effective ways to completely avoid probate. Some are so simple they can be taken care of in the time it takes to open a bank account—and most of them won’t cost you a penny.

Learn how to take advantage of eight important—and often overlooked—probate avoidance strategies. State-by-state charts show you which probate avoidance techniques are available in your state.

"... consumer friendly..."—San Diego Union Tribune

Recommended by Modern Maturity, Nov/Dec ‘97. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Payable-on-death bank accounts offer one of the easiest ways to keep money-even large sums of it-out of probate. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you live in Texas read this 27 Jan 2006
By William R Shuman - Published on
I have perused several books on this topic and found this one to be much more informative about how Texas laws are very unique in regards to avoiding probate. In fact, most other books don't even mention this. It seems that for every one of these avoidance techmiques, the TX laws are very different in very specific ways and if you don't have everything done according to the letter of the TX law, you could end up with big problems. For example, only in the state of TX do you have to sign a separate written agreement with just the right language and other specifics in order for right of survivorship to actually work in avoiding probate. Not many people are aware of this and even most of the bankiing institutions are unaware. Even the big banking institutions will tell you that their methods are valid and correct when, in fact, they are not. Several cases have gone to the TX Supreme Court because of this. Don't let it happen to you. It is a huge problem. This book educates you on every issue and how it has to be handled differently in different states.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read 26 Dec 2000
By A Customer - Published on
I just recently used this book as part of my study to gain continuing professional education credits for my CPA license. I found it to be an excellent source for anyone who is currently planning his or her family's financial future. It's easy to understand, direct, and written with common-sense language. I will be recommending this book to my clients.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 Ways to Avoid Probate by Mary Randolph 30 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on
I rate this book very highly. It was very informative and easy to follow. Each section covered the topics to the fullest. This book is very easy to understand and I would recommend it to anyone looking for answers on how to avoid probate and how to go about making a living trust. There are many books on the market about this subject, but I feel this book covers it all.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny. 20 July 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Get the book, read it twice and avoid the time, expense and aggravation of a probate. Having gone through a probate, I can tell you that this is something you want to avoid.
Mary Randolph does an excellent jobs of giving you simple techniques that let you bypass most or all of the probate process.
Again, the book is worth the money.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Written by California attorney, which means many caveats 7 July 2011
By Gadgester - Published on
I admire Nolo's stated mission of helping the average educated American understand the law (of course, Nolo is also a for-profit company). I own many, many of their books and software products. However, the biggest problem with Nolo products in general is THEY ARE WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY ATTORNEYS AND WRITERS BASED IN CALIFORNIA. Sure, they present a lot of information for the national audience, and I'm not questioning whether they present incorrect information for states other than California. But, we all know California is a very unique state, so it is important for the reader of any Nolo book to keep this important caveat in mind.

This book presents 9 ways to avoid probate -- one more than the original 8 presented in earlier editions. (The new addition is transfer-on-death deeds.) The TOD methods, especially vehicle titles and real estate deeds, are only applicable in a handful states. Louisiana, whose state legal system follows the Napoleonic code rather than the English common law, is not discussed -- indeed, the state-specific Appendix A omits the Pelican State altogether.

The biggest problem with this book, hence the 2 stars, is I do not believe it presents enough warnings about potential pitfalls of its recommended methods. It makes it sound like these methods are almost foolproof ways to avoid probate, while in fact they are not, except in certain states *and* for certain estates. For example, the payable-on-death account method is made to seem very straightforward and simple. In theory, it is, but in practice, you must worry about whether the bank loses the POD agreement or your original signature card, something according to a local lawyer in my community happens all too often in this day and age of constant mergers and acquisitions (and spinoffs and then remergers...). Without the original POD agreement *and* an unambiguous signature card, your state will probably not let your bank simple release the fund to your POD beneficiary. Also, equally important, many banks (especially those not HQ'ed in the state you live in, but often even those HQ'ed locally) may simply have the wrong forms for you to fill out. Come account transfer time after you die (pardon me), your beneficiaries may have a difficult time actually collecting the funds without ending up in probate court. Samething for TOD accounts for securities. What does this mean? I'm not a lawyer, but to me it means while POD (along with TOD) is still a good concept, you may not want to use it for large accounts. (I myself do use POD accounts because I don't have much money.) My point is, such important warnings should have been presented to the reader.

The gift-giving chapter is also a little thin. Another problem with the book, as with most Nolo books, is it constantly cross-sells other Nolo books and products. Anyone who's read a Nolo book knows what I mean.

In the end, I think this book provides some good summary information, but I believe it's erroneous to make probate avoidance sound so simple, whereas in fact state laws often make such avoidance cumbersome. I think the author is 100% right in asserting that the legal system appears to conspire to enrich probate lawyers.
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