You might have heard the term “probate” and not be entirely sure what it means for you and your estate plans. When you have a will in place, many of your assets must pass through probate. This can be a long and costly process. In fact, the longer it takes, the more costly it can be. In addition, heirs could be left with less than expected.
In addition, since probate proceedings are considered public record, your privacy could be compromised. You could also unwittingly become the cause of family arguments or discord.
It’s important to realize that only certain assets are required to go through probate. That includes anything that was owned solely by the person who died (legally known as the decedent). Some shared interests are also eligible for probate.
However, there are methods by which you can avoid the probate process and save your loved ones from the sometimes-high costs associated with a probate. Here are some of the most popular:
Establish Joint Ownership
Under this provision, any property that was jointly owned by you with the right of survivorship will simply pass to the surviving partner upon your death. Joint ownership with survivorship rights falls under two categories:
- Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship occurs when the title to property passes to another owner when you pass away.
- Available in most states, tenancy by the entireties is essentially the same as the above, although this provision applies to married couples only.
It’s important to note that other property can be jointly owned, including vehicles and financial accounts. To avoid confusion and ensure your loved ones are protected, it’s wise to contact a trusted and reputable probate attorney in Daytona Beach who can guide you through this sometimes confusing process.
Trusts are a popular choice for many people, particularly in the case of larger estates, or when many beneficiaries are involved. A popular choice for most people is a revocable living trust which empowers you to revoke it at any time.
Once you have created a trust, property ownership is transferred from you to the trust. You may serve as the trustee so that you have full control over what happens to property while you’re still alive. When you pass, the person you named as successor trustee oversees distribution to the named beneficiaries. Speak with a friendly and qualified estate planning attorney in Ormond Beach for more information about trusts and other essential documentation.
Be Strategic with Asset Distribution
You can also establish pay-on-death or transfer-on-death accounts and securities to avoid probate costs. For example, financial accounts (including IRAs) are typically eligible for beneficiary designation. That means once you pass away (but not before), these accounts can be accessed by your chosen individual.
Similarly, transfer-on-death is available for non-financial accounts. This is when the title to property is transferred to a designated person when you die and entails everything from real estate, securities, and more. Contact a dependable estate planning attorney to learn more about your options in this regard.
Secure Dependable Legal Representation
These are only a few of the common ways to avoid the probate process. It’s always a good idea to draft a comprehensive will and/or trust. In addition to a will and trust, you most likely should have other estate planning documents that protect you while you are still living. In fact, teaming with a Daytona Beach lawyer with a proven track record of success is an ideal way to create and maintain a solid estate plan.
For years, we’ve built a solid reputation as a stand-out DeLand, Florida attorney. Along with probate, we also specialize in estate planning, family law, divorce, and more. Contact us today to begin a discussion on how you can avoid or reduce the costs of probate.