Typically, only assets that a deceased individual solely owns without a beneficiary designation must pass through probate. Because of this, trusts are often implemented to circumvent probate. Other than trusts, co-ownership arrangements or non-probate transfers are frequently utilized to avoid probate. A non-probate transfer (e.g., transfer on death, payable on death) operates to where the asset is automatically transferred to the named beneficiary(ies) upon the death of the owner. With a joint ownership arrangement, if one owner dies, the surviving owner typically owns the asset exclusively. Cook v. Barnard, 100 S.W.3d 924, 928 (Mo. Ct. App.2003) (bank accounts/certificates of deposit that were jointly owned or payable on death passed to the joint owner/beneficiary “by operation of law”).
While joint ownership arrangements and non-probate transfers can avoid probate, there are numerous drawbacks. For instance, they do not have the same protections in the case of disability as a trust does. Contact with questions.