There are some estate planning strategies that you can utilize now that will make things much easier on your loved ones in case you pass away or end up incapacitated. You do this to eliminate many of the possible complications that your loved ones could face after you pass away. One significant hardship for your heirs that you likely want to avoid is for your estate to get tied up in a lengthy, costly, and stressful probate process. The following are some steps you can take now to eliminate the chances your estate will end up in costly probate litigation after your passing.
Adequately Update Your Estate Plan
Having a current estate plan is one of the best ways to make sure that you are adequately prepared for the various changes that lie ahead. This means making sure that you always sufficiently express your intent to anyone impacted by your estate plan.
Have Honest Conversations
Whether you notice the early signs of dementia in a loved one or have unique estate plan goals, it is almost always a good idea to have open and direct conversations with your loved ones in case you end up incapacitated or pass away. You should make sure to specifically address things like advance healthcare directives and living wills in your estate plan, this way there is no confusion or uncertainty about what your intentions might be.
Consider Creating a Living Trust
The best way to avoid probate is to create a living trust. While living trusts are alternatives to last wills and testaments, these estate planning documents place your assets into a trust that is then managed by a beneficiary. These trusts allow individuals to avoid the probate process entirely because assets are already distributed to the trust prior to your passing.
Appropriately Name Beneficiaries on Retirement Accounts
For some people, wills are often more suitable than trusts because they are more straightforward estate planning documents. Simply because a person has written a will, however, does not mean that the person’s assets have to pass through probate. What many people fail to appreciate is that many valued assets allow a person to name a beneficiary. For example, bank accounts opened after receiving a job enable that individual to designate a beneficiary for those funds outside of the probate process.
Hold Property Jointly
A good way to keep real estate from probate is to consider holding property jointly. If you or your spouse are considering the purchase of property, understand that owning property jointly can ensure that the real estate automatically transfers to your loved one in case something happens to you. Regardless of whether or not a person is married, property passed on in a jointly owned relationship means that the surviving individual will gain ownership of the asset.
Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
The estate planning process is complicated and full of challenges. One of the best things that you can do to avoid estate planning complications is to promptly obtain the assistance of a skilled attorney. Contact attorney Jim A Lyon today to schedule a free case evaluation.