When you’re in the process of estate planning, understanding how to avoid probate can help your beneficiaries forego the costly expense and the burden of court proceedings.
What is Probate?
Probate is a detailed and lengthy legal process that happens after someone’s death. Probate is usually paid for from the estate, and will involve court and lawyer fees. Because probate can take years to settle it’s important that you know how to avoid probate. Save your beneficiaries both time and money with the following tips.
Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. It includes:
Proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid (usually a routine matter)
Identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
Having the property appraised
Paying debts and taxes, and
Distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there’s no will) directs.
Typically, probate involves paperwork and court appearances by lawyers. The lawyers and court fees are paid from estate property, which would otherwise go to the people who inherit the deceased person’s property.
Name a Beneficiary
Your property should always clearly state a transfer on death or a pay on death beneficiary. This person(s) can be anyone you’d like. Rather than go through an extensive legal process beneficiaries immediately receive benefits upon your death.
Joint Ownership Benefits
It makes sense to share joint ownership of property, especially your spouse. When you grant rights of survivorship to another person the title will pass to them upon your death and they will avoid probate. But first, your property deeds need to reflect the type of joint ownership you share, such as a tenancy in common, tenancy by entirety, common law property, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, or community property with right of survivorship. Laws for same sex couples vary by state. Speak with an attorney to understand your rights and how joint ownership can help you avoid probate.
Discuss Your Plans
Discussing your estate plans with loved ones prior to their permanence can help avoid probate. If you can settle any disputes and make any necessary changes to your plans in advance, beneficiaries are less likely to contest distribution of assets, and that can help you avoid probate.
Creating a trust might be advantageous to you. Living trusts have many benefits, including the ability to change its details throughout your lifetime. A living trust names a trustee that will become the owner of your estate after you die. In the event that you become incapacitated your trustee will make legal decisions on your behalf. He will also execute your will and ideally bypass any probate proceedings. Bear in mind you cannot set up a living trust without an attorney. Contact Brillant Law Firm today for assistance in living trusts and estate planning, and to learn more about how to avoid probate.