Methods to Avoid Probate

You may have read about the 10 Year Probate Case in my last post. Here are the methods we use to help clients avoid probate and save time, expense, and stress for all.

• Add beneficiaries or joint owners to your real estate. There are several things you must consider when deciding how to avoid probate with your real estate. A ladybird deed is a very popular way to keep real estate in your name but designate a beneficiary upon your passing. The right attorney can help you explore your options and the pitfalls of each. In addition to the ladybird deed, other methods to avoid probate with real estate include adding joint owners to your property, transferring it to your trust, or to a company that you form such as a limited liability company (LLC).

• Make pay on death or transfer on death designations for your bank accounts. To avoid probate for your bank accounts you should go to the banks and ask to make pay on death or transfer on death designations. When you pass away or the last joint owner passes away, the bank will look to these designations to determine who should receive the remaining balance. You may designate one person, several persons, or a trust.

• Consider your investment accounts and all other financial accounts. You should designate both a primary and contingent beneficiary on your investment accounts. By doing this, upon your death, the accounts will be transferred to the persons you have selected. You should talk to your attorney and financial advisor about whether to name an individual, group of individuals, or a trust.

• Form a trust and fund it properly. Trusts are a great way to avoid probate but signing a trust document is not enough. Once your trust has been signed, you still have homework to do. You will need to go to your banks, financial advisors, life insurance companies, etc., and make sure you designate the trust as the owner, the primary beneficiary, or the contingent beneficiary.

Each of the above methods should be carefully reviewed with an attorney. Tax implications and other applicable laws will impact your decision. You should be fully informed of these implications before choosing the best plan to avoid probate. The money and time investment involved in planning to avoid probate will save much more money, time, and stress for your loved ones after you pass.

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