3 Ways to Avoid Probate
Probate is one of those legal processes everyone wants to avoid at all costs, mostly because they’ve heard that it can be complicated, costly, and time-consuming for everyone involved. And as your friendly, Denton-based estate planning attorney, I’m not going to deny that fact, either. If you have the chance to help your family avoid probate after you die, you should take it.
But there are some steps you need to take first. And the good news is that none of it has to be super complicated.
1. Establish a Revocable Living Trust — While having a Will in place is critically important to spell out your final wishes, it is merely one document and the first of many steps in what should be a carefully-crafted estate planning strategy. Furthermore, many people don’t realize their Will is just a piece of paper until it goes through the probate process. Granted, probate will be easier with a Will than without one. But you can’t avoid probate with a Will alone. A trust, on the other hand, does not go through probate. Any assets held in the trust pass directly to your named beneficiaries. Your friends here at Caitlyn Ashley Law are happy to explain all the benefits of a trust.
2. Make sure your accounts have beneficiaries — A common mistake many people make is overlooking the transfer-on-death provisions available on their bank accounts and investment products. This also includes retirement plans like a 401K and IRA, life insurance policies, pension plans, or stocks and bonds. All you have to do is name your beneficiary upon account opening. If you didn’t do it when the account opened, simply amend them as quickly as possible. Doing so ensures that your chosen beneficiary receives the balance of those accounts after you die. Always review these transfer-on-death designations every few years, just in case a beneficiary has passed away or there’s been a divorce or marriage.
3. Establish joint ownership of property — Another wise strategy with any real property (house, rental property, etc.) is to be a joint owner with someone else. Because both parties’ names are listed on the deed as joint tenants, the property would simply pass on to the surviving party without having to go through probate.
Call Caitlyn Ashley Law today!!
Having a plan for the future is the most important gift you can give yourself and your family. Granted, none of us will ever know for sure what is around every corner in life. And just thinking about the what-ifs — what if I were to die or become incapacitated tomorrow; what if my child with special needs has no one to care for her; what if all my “stuff” isn’t passed onto the right people — can be overwhelming. But having a plan that accounts for your family’s unique circumstances, puts your affairs in order, has concrete solutions to your concerns, lays out your wishes and goals, and protects your family’s future provides peace of mind for the road ahead.
Caitlyn Ashley Law in Denton, Texas, will counsel you on which documents are best suited for your needs and ensure they are flexible enough to meet your changing needs for years to come.