Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of a person’s estate during their lifetime. Estate planning also involves appointing pre-determined power holders who will help you with making medical and/or financial related decisions in the event you become incapacitated.
The major advantage to planning your estate is probate avoidance, however, not all estate planning strategies automatically allow you to avoid probate. For instance, simply having a last will and testament may not give you probate avoidance. The court will have to supervise the distribution of assets to your beneficiaries. Trust planning usually does avoid probate, however, if you don’t re-title certain assets to your revocable living trust, then your estate may still have to be probated to some extent.
Another great probate avoidance strategy, outside of trust planning, includes naming payable on death beneficiaries on your financial accounts. Property titled in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety (marital ownership) also avoids probate. However, be careful when using joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety as probate will be triggered on the second death.
Using a combination of the above-mentioned strategies is the best estate planning. For instance, you can have a full estate plan with a revocable living trust, hold certain property jointly and/or have payable on death beneficiaries for some or all of your financial accounts. The best strategy really depends on your particular situation, therefore, it is best to have an estate planning attorney determine which planning strategies you should use.
Contact the Attorneys of The Noble Law Firm, P.A. to assist you with your estate planning needs.