Estate planning is necessary—not just to protect your assets—but to help yourself should you become incapacitated. As part of the process, you want to be set up as best you can to help your family avoid a court probate process. This can be a lengthy process and ultimately your wishes may not be met.
To avoid probate, you can do the following:
- Give your assets away prior to death in which case the assets are not owned by you. (However, you would lose control of the property, which can have significant tax disadvantages.)
- You can jointly own your property with right of survivorship. (Again, you are giving up control of the property and this can have costly income tax consequences for the surviving joint tenant.)
- Name a designated death beneficiary other than your estate on your life insurance, IRA’s, employer retirement plans, annuities, etc.
- Properly drafting and transferring your assets to a Revocable Living Trust. You should ask your attorney how to avoid court probate for your individual circumstances.
For more on estate planning, check out our previous post on estate planning.