Strategies for Avoiding Probate

What is probate? Probate is the legal process by which a person’s property is distributed after their death.

Ask your friends or family and chances are someone will tell you a horror story about their probate experience.

Sometimes probate cannot totally be avoided.  However, with proper planning, probate can be minimized or avoided altogether. Here are some common techniques that we discuss with clients:

Joint Right of Survivorship: Many assets, such as bank accounts, financial accounts, and real estate, can be owned jointly with someone else, with the right of survivorship. This means that when one owner dies, the surviving owner automatically gets the asset without having to go through probate.

Designation of Beneficiaries: Thins such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other retirement benefits allow you to name a beneficiary. The beneficiary you name will receive the asset directly, bypassing probate.

Transfer on Death (TOD) Provisions: Many financial institutions allow you to name a Transfer on Death beneficiary so when you pass away, the TOD beneficiary can get the asset without going through probate.

Gift Giving: Making gifts of assets during your lifetime will reduce the size of your estate and minimize the amount that will need to go through probate.

Revocable Living Trusts: This type of trust allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to a trust during your lifetime, where you will have control over the trust property for as long as you have the mental capacity to do so. If set up correctly, when you pass away, the property in the trust will go directly to your beneficiaries instead of probate.

We will be glad to consult with you and put together an estate planning strategy to reach your goals and put your mind at ease. When you are ready, contact us or call 803.929.0096.

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