Probate proceedings are notorious for delaying the distribution of someone’s assets and also diminishing how much their selected beneficiaries receive from their estate. The more conflict there is and the more that the probate courts have to resolve, the greater the impact probate will have on estate administration.
Many individuals putting together estate plans would prefer to minimize probate conflict or bypass probate entirely if possible. There are a few planning techniques that can limit how much of an estate passes through probate and the chances of significant conflict. The following are a few of the most common strategies worth considering.
Trusts are some of the most customizable and useful estate planning tools. There is an assortment of different types of trusts available that can help testators achieve a range of different goals. From trusts designed to provide ongoing support for a loved one with special needs to trusts that help preserve certain assets for specific beneficiaries while giving others access to those resources. Assets moved into a trust generally do not have to pass through probate court as part of someone’s estate.
Arrange to transfer assets ahead of time
Many financial institutions allow people to attach transfer-on-death designations to their accounts. Such designations allow a selected beneficiary to present paperwork, including a death certificate, and then take direct control over checking accounts or other financial reports. It is also possible to make advance arrangements for real property to transfer, possibly by executing a deed. Adding someone to title as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship would allow them to assume control over the testator’s interest in the property without its value contributing to the value of their estate.
Make planned gifts
Another way that people keep their assets out of probate court and keep the total value of their estate low is by planning gifts to loved ones during their golden years. Making annual gifts to children or grandchildren might allow someone to witness them enjoying their inheritance. Additionally, those gifts will diminish what assets pass through probate court after someone’s death.
Many people find that a combination of strategies may be necessary to keep as much of their property as possible out of probate court while better ensuring their comfort during their golden years. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.