Do you like talking about the inevitability of your death? If you answered no to that question, you are like the majority of people in Arkansas. Although death is not a subject that most people seek to discuss, it is something that will happen to all of us at some point. This is why planning for this inevitable event is a very wise thing to do.
Estate planning is crucial if you want to protect your property and assets while ensuring that you pass down precious heirlooms appropriately after your death. However, if you have no plan in place when you die, the property and assets that you leave behind will have to go through the process of probate. Probate is a lengthy court process where the state will determine what happens to your estate. Here’s how you can set up your estate plan to avoid probate and ensure your wishes carry out as intended.
Joint ownership is basically as the name implies; it means you can jointly own property. Joint ownership can bypass probate because, when one owner of a property dies, the property goes straight to the other owner(s). The most common types of joint ownership are joint tenancy with right of survivorship, tenancy by the entirety and community property with right of survivorship.
Gifting is another way to avoid having your assets and possessions go through the probate process. If you give your property and assets to a loved one or family member, it essentially means those things are no longer part of your estate, thus you do not have to submit those things to probate. Keep in mind that gifts over $15,000 in value may exceed the federal guidelines on the value of gifts you can give per year to the same person, so they could be subject to tax.
Living trusts are one of the most popular and recommended ways to avoid the probate process. A living trust is just like a will in that it is a legal document that you create during your lifetime that stipulates how you want your assets and property distributed when you die. However, what makes a trust different than a will is that the property you place in the trust technically belongs to the trustee instead of you. This is precisely what enables trusts to avoid probate, since you technically do not own the contents of the trust.
Creating a suitable plan
Probate is a very lengthy process that can take several months, so avoiding it will save your grieving loved ones a lot of time and stress. Creating an estate plan to avoid probate is not as difficult as you may think. Thankfully, there is professional help ready to assist you in creating an appropriate and well-thought-out plan to secure your family’s future.