One of the biggest concerns of many people who are doing their estate planning is making it as easy as possible for estate heirs upon their death. This means making a plan that helps their heirs avoid probate. Avoiding this process can save time, expense and further heartache for beneficiaries.

In Michigan, it is relatively easy for those with small estates to avoid a lengthy probate process. Estates valued at $22,000 or less may qualify for summary administration, which essentially means that probate is expedited. The estate may still be probated, but the process is simpler and faster for small estates.

Larger estates are more complex, and it might be harder to avoid probate. However, if you create a solid estate plan, you can still achieve your goals. Discuss your wish to protect your assets and your heirs from probate with an experienced attorney. Here are three ways you and your lawyer can protect your assets.

Revocable trusts: Transferring your assets into a revocable trust during your lifetime means that they remain protected from probate upon your death.

Beneficiary designations: Designating the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries can also help in avoiding probate. For example, you can designate beneficiaries for your bank and investment accounts that are payable or transferable on death.

Gifts: If you give all your assets away before you die, then you can avoid probate completely. However, you should know that gifts valued at more than certain amounts can mean that your heirs must pay gift taxes.

These are just a few options for avoiding probate. As part of your estate planning efforts, it is wise to ask your attorney about other options that you might want to consider.