Many individuals amass quite a bit of wealth and personal assets during their lifetime. After death, these assets are often passed on to surviving family members and friends. If an individual dies without the right legal documentation in place, the transfer of their assets could be delayed during the probate process.
Here are three simple things that you can do if you want to avoid putting your family members through the probate process after your passing.
1. Transfer assets prior to death.
One of the easiest ways to avoid putting your family members through probate is to transfer any assets you want them to have after your death into their name while you are still living.
Completing these transfers can be as simple as drafting a bill of sale and having your attorney help you file the necessary paperwork to put deeds or titles into your loved one's name. Giving away assets before your death can be a simple way to avoid having real estate, vehicles, and other real property get caught up in probate after your passing.
2. Establish joint ownership.
If you have assets that you still need access to during your lifetime (like bank accounts or a primary residence), then transferring these assets into a loved one's name may not be feasible. To avoid the probate process, you can establish joint ownership of these assets.
Adding a loved one's name as a co-owner allows the asset to transfer quickly and easily after your death. Any accounts or property owned by two or more individuals legally pass to the surviving owner when one person dies. You will still be able to retain use of the asset while effectively avoiding probate by establishing joint ownership.
3. Put your wishes in writing.
Another simple way to avoid the probate process after your passing is to write down who you want to receive certain assets after your death. An experienced probate attorney can help you decide if a traditional will or a revocable living trust will be better suited to meet your needs.
Both of these documents are written accounts of the way you want your assets distributed after death. Having an attorney prepare and file the documentation will ensure that it meets legal standards, allowing you to avoid putting your family members through probate.
Planning ahead for the dispersal of your assets can be a simple way to alleviate the stress placed on your family members after your death. Be sure that you transfer assets while you are still living, establish joint ownership of assets you still need access to, and put your wishes in writing with a will or revocable living trust to prevent probate from plaguing your surviving family members.
Work with a lawyer, like David R Webb Attorney, for more help.