Estate Planning in San Diego: Avoiding Probate
Probate isn’t always necessary. Some property can pass straight to the heirs of an estate without the need for lengthy court procedures and/or proceedings.
However, what if an owner of an estate wants to bypass probate? When is this possible, and how can probate be avoided?
Ways to Avoid Probate When Estate Planning in San Diego
Giving Gifts During One’s Lifetime
Arguably, one of the easiest ways to avoid probate is to gift chunks of the estate to others while one is still alive. Most states do not tax gifts up to a certain amount, so one could dispense with a good amount of their estate without having any interference from state or federal government at all.
Engaging in Joint Ownership
Naming a joint owner of property while one is still living is a good way to pass that property on. Instances of legal joint property ownership that avoid probate include the following:
- Tenancy by the entirety – Married couples can use this form of joint ownership. Upon the death of one spouse, the other spouse immediately inherits the property.
- Joint tenancy with right of survivorship – This means that when the first owner dies, the property passes directly to the other surviving owner. It’s similar to tenancy by entirety but doesn’t have to involve married couples.
- Community property with right of survivorship – This is helpful if one is married and lives in one state, but owns property in another. In Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin, with co-ownership, the property passes directly to the living spouse when the other dies.
Creating Revocable Living Trusts
This is the transfer of property to another person, the trustee, who agrees to hold it in trust for the benefit of the original owner – the trustor (however, the trustor can still revoke a living trust at any time). By law, property transferred this way is no longer part of the estate of the original owner, and therefore can’t be subject to probate. However, the trustor can stipulate who receives that property upon their death in the trust document, which the trustee must follow.
Making Use of Death Beneficiaries
Many financial accounts allow one to name a beneficiary in case of the death of the account owner. In these cases, when that person is named, the account and all the assets in the account pass to the beneficiary directly. Probate is bypassed without a blip on the radar in this fashion. Many banks offer payable-on-death accounts, and retirement accounts work in the same way.
With Pre-Planning, Probate Can Be Avoided
In many cases it’s a smart plan to avoid probate on an estate. Probate is a lengthy legal process that ties up inheritances or assets where they can’t be accessed. This is a problem for beneficiaries who might depend on what is left to them after their loved one dies, as this person may have been their main provider.
However, probate is only avoided with estate planning in San Diego for death’s inevitable arrival. While it may feel difficult to think about the future, in the end it’s the only way to make sure loved ones are provided for and a person’s estate is taken care of in the exact way they wish.
Keyword: estate planning San Diego