Estate planning is an important part of planning for your future and that of your loved ones. A well-drafted, comprehensive estate plan can protect you financially, help ensure you get the future healthcare you want, and give you peace of mind that your wishes for you and your estate will be honored by your loved ones after you pass. Another important thing that can be accomplished with proper estate planning is avoiding the probate administration process, at least part of it. During probate, the property of your estate will be distributed to your heirs or beneficiaries. It is a time-consuming and expensive process. There are certain tools that can be utilized to exempt part of your estate from the probate process saving your loved ones a potentially substantial amount of time and money, not to mention stress.
It is never too early to start the estate planning process. Contact M&A Law Firm, P.C. today and put a comprehensive estate plan in place that will bring you an unrivaled amount of peace of mind.
How Do I Plan Ahead to Avoid Probate?
There are several ways to sidestep the probate process. One of the more popular ways is to establish a living trust. A living trust is a type of revocable trust which means you can change it anytime you want to while you are alive. You select the assets you wish to be held in trust and designate the beneficiaries in the trust agreement. You also have the option to name alternate beneficiaries. After your death, the trust assets are distributed directly to your beneficiaries. There is no need for probate. There is no waiting period. An additional benefit to the living trust is that it is rarely challenged in court. Living trust contests do not occur with nearly the same frequency that will contests do.
Additional ways to avoid probate include:
- Naming beneficiaries for your retirement accounts: Be sure to always list a beneficiary for all of your retirement accounts. Upon your death, the retirement account will pass directly to your named beneficiary.
- Payable on death accounts: There are also many other types of financial accounts that will allow for a payable on death designation. You list the beneficiary and the account will pay out to that beneficiary upon your death. Bank accounts are a perfect example of what can become a payable-on-death account. Your beneficiary will be granted immediate access to the account funds after you pass.
- Transfer on death registration: Much like payable on death accounts, transfer on death registration is permitted for stocks, bonds, and other investments. Name your beneficiary and that specific stock, bond, or even an entire brokerage account will pass to them outside of the probate administration process.
Additional property that will pass outside of probate includes certain types of property that are jointly owned. If you want to avoid a particular piece of property falling into probate, establish the process as one held in joint tenancy with right or survivorship or tenancy by the entirety. This way, your property interest will immediately transfer to your property co-owner(s) upon your passing away.
Looking Out for the Future Interests of You and Your Loved Ones.
Probate is often a necessary process. However, there are so many ways to help expedite the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries and reduce the financial burden that can come with probate administration, you need to consider your options. Contact M&A Law Firm, P.C. today to get an estate plan that means the unique needs you and your family have.