Each person’s estate plan is as unique as they are. Some of our clients are concerned about the drawbacks of probate and seek ways around it. Other clients are better served by a will and are therefore unconcerned about the costs of preparing a will, tax planning and probate. In order to determine if you would benefit from avoiding probate, we would have to carefully review your situation and discuss whether or not you want your property to pass through a will or not. In many cases our clients elect to include both a will and a living trust in their estate planning documents, in which case we reduce the probate assets as much as possible so that loved ones can receive a share of their inheritance faster.
About forty years ago, if someone wanted to avoid probate they would have little other choice but to use a trust, but nowadays there are more options available. By taking advantage of one or more probate avoidance techniques, much property can pass through a nonprobate transfer to the next generation.
Since each method has its own advantages and limitations, it will be necessary to look at the big picture to decide which methods would help you achieve your estate planning goals. Below are some common methods for avoiding probate:
· Transfer assets and property into a living trust
· Hold property in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship or tenancy by entirety
· Name a payable on death beneficiary for bank accounts
· For stocks and bonds, name a transfer-on-death beneficiary
· For government bonds, register ownership in beneficiary form
· Name a beneficiary on IRAs and 401(k) plans
· Hold real estate with a transfer on death deed
Probate proceedings are strictly for “probate assets,” which are essentially those assets that are only in your name; these are the assets that would pass through a will or if you died without a will, these assets would be distributed during the administration of your estate. Whenever you have property held in a trust or when you own property jointly with rights of survivorship, or when you have beneficiary designations, those assets are not subject to probate since title passes automatically to the survivor or beneficiary.
If you want to reduce the size of your probate assets, you will need to arrange your estate accordingly. For more information about the various estate planning tools available to you, contact a Arizona estate planning attorney from Ferris, Thompson & Zweig. With nearly 30 years of experience, our attorneys have the knowledge and background needed to protect you and your loved ones.
Contact our office today at (480) 543-8700 to arrange your initial consultation.