In our recent blog post we outline what probate is and what the process entails in a simple step-by-step guide. Probate refers to the settlement and distribution of one’s assets in compliance with the terms of the will. The state court manages this, and all assets that you own individually and intend to pass on to heirs is subject to probate.
In this post we delve further, and discuss ways you can avoid probate. Avoiding probate can save money, ensure timely transfer of assets to beneficiaries, as well as preserve family privacy. Probates are known to be a generally slow procedure, they can take from three months to three years to resolve.
Some of the probate costs include litigation fees, attorney charges, newspaper publication fees for publishing the estate appointments, as well as bond premiums. So, it’s usually in one’s best interest to save money, and time, especially if your family needs the income coming in from the estate to live on.
Some of these tips are simple, and some require the help of an estate planning, probate and tax attorney. Let’s discuss some of the options you have below.
- Give away property: You can give away some of your property before you die. The drawback is you can’t give all of it away since you’ll still need some of it to live on. Your property can be a part of the estate as a gift. It’s important to make sure you clearly state this in writing or the recipient may be able to claim a share of any property that needs to be probated.
- Establish joint ownership with rights to survivorship for real estate: With property that is jointly held with rights to survivorship, if one owner dies, the title automatically passes to the remaining owner. A couple types of ownership are: joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, where the title to the property passes to the other owner when one passes away. There’s also tenancy by the entireties (only available in some states, and for married couples). It has to be clear that the account is owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and not as tenants in common.
- Establish joint ownership for other property: If one owner dies, the title passes automatically to the remaining owner. It needs to be made very clear in writing that survivorship rights are intended. Other property includes financial accounts (banks, brokerage accounts, etc.), or vehicles, boats, and other items of similar nature.
- Convert your IRA’s and Personal Accounts to pay on death accounts: This one is easy, all you have to do is fill out a form indicating a chosen beneficiary, and upon death your money is directly transferred to your desired beneficiary without undergoing probate. This works for security and vehicle registrations as well.
- Make a Revocable Living Trust: A living trust allows a trustee to pass on their property and possessions to family members without going through probate, saving lots of time and money. Work with us to set up your trust, and learn more about our estate planning services here.
What option you choose will depend on your unique family and personal situations. What’s important to know is you have these options and more. For more options, contact Tramontozzi Law Office. As you can see, the more preparation you put in, the more peace of mind you and your loved ones will have. Tramontozzi Law Offices are here to support you with all of your estate planning needs, call us for your free consultation today at 781-665-0099.