Because you love your family, you undoubtedly want to make your eventual passing as easy on them as possible. Estate planning can offer many options for doing just that as you can plan the handling of your estate rather than leaving it up to your family to decide while they go through the grieving process. Therefore, no matter your age, you may wish to get a jump-start on your planning.
Taking advantage of creating such a plan can even allow you to help your family avoid probate. This avenue appeals to many individuals as it can protect assets and funds from diminishing due to court costs and other expenses associated with the process. You may utilize a variety of planning tools to assist in this endeavor.
Revocable living trusts
Most commonly, individuals use trusts in an effort to keep assets out of probate. This option works because putting property into a trust transfers the ownership of that property out of the estate. The trustee holds those assets, but because a revocable trust can change, you have the ability to modify that trust at any point during your life.
A relatively simple way to keep property out of the process involves gifting. If you gift your assets to other individuals before your demise, you no longer have that property, which eliminates the need for probate. Of course, you should consider certain issues because gift taxes could apply for gifts that exceed the tax threshold, and therefore, you may wish to utilize this option for smaller assets.
Payable on death accounts
Another way to avoid probate involves naming beneficiaries to payable on death accounts. Banks often allow individuals to set up such accounts, which involve you naming beneficiaries to the desired accounts. After your death, the accounts transfer directly to your beneficiaries without the need for probate, and those beneficiaries can collect the funds by providing the proper identification.
Retirement accounts have similar designations, and you can name your desired beneficiaries to those accounts as well. However, you may wish to remember that your spouse may have a right to those funds in some capacity regardless of beneficiary designations.
Choosing the right method
Because each estate has its own unique properties, you may want to explore your options for planning and avoiding probate thoroughly. You may wish to utilize only one method or several in order to meet your desired outcomes. The beauty of estate planning is that you can design the plan with which you feel most comfortable.
In order to ensure that you understand your options, you may wish to consult with an experienced California attorney. This legal professional can assist you in choosing the right tools for your plans and answer any questions you may have.