Probate is the legal process by which a person’s property is distributed after they pass. Probate happens whether you have a will or not. If you have a will, it will be admitted to probate and the court will distribute your assets based on your wishes you provided in the will. If there is no will, the state will determine who receives your assets.
The bad news: probated estates are subject to a variety of costs from attorneys, executors, appraisers, accountants, courts, and state law. Depending on the probate's complexity, fees can run into tens of thousands of dollars.
The good news: probate costs can be reduced by avoiding probate. It’s really that simple.
Here are three simple ways to avoid probate costs by avoiding probate:
1. Name a Beneficiary. The probate process determines who gets what when there is no beneficiary designation. So, naming a beneficiary is the easiest way to avoid probate. Common beneficiary designation assets include:
· Life insurance
· Retirement plans
2. Create and Fund a Revocable Living Trust. A revocable living trust owns your property, yet you remain in charge of all legal decisions until your death. After your death, your named trustee manages your assets – according to your wishes. A trust works well if properly created and funded by an experienced estate planning attorney.
3. Own Property Jointly. Probate can be avoided if the property you own is held jointly with a right of survivorship. There are several ways that you can establish joint ownership of property such as:
· Joint tenancy with right of survivorship – ownership simply transfers to other tenants upon your death;
· Tenancy by its entirety – is a form of joint tenancy with right of survivorship, but only for married couples in some states;
· Community property – property obtained during a marriage in some states;
State laws play an important role here. We can help you determine which form of joint ownership, if any, is a good fit for you.
We Have the Tools to Help You
Contact our office today. We’ll help you decide whether it makes sense to avoid probate in your particular case and, if so, the best way to do so.