One of the simplest ways to avoid the probate process is to utilize non-probate transfers via beneficiary designations and different forms of property ownership.
At Bolinger Law Firm in St. Louis, an estate planning attorney will create and execute plans to transfer property without the property passing through the probate process, which would take considerable time and money and become public record.
When you opened your bank account, do you remember the banker asking, “Who would you like to have the account if you should die?” What you probably don’t know is that the banker did you and your loved one a huge favor!
The person you named is your Beneficiary Designation. And by having that document, upon your death, you save your bank account and your loved one from the lengthy, stressful probate process, giving your beneficiary access to the money immediately. This can mean the world to a significant other or spouse, children, or siblings knowing they don’t have to “fight” for what they need to carry on.
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It is important to institute non-probate transfer techniques during your lifetime – the time and expenses incurred by your surviving loved ones if you fail to plan ahead can be drastically higher and much more stressful than need be.
Since non-probate transfer techniques avoid the probate process, your probate estate will be smaller, therefore resulting in less time to administer, lower costs, and fewer expenses in the long run.
If you have not addressed your will, trust, or beneficiary designations in a while, there are a few things to consider, like are your beneficiaries still living or in good favor? Is there a likelihood that one beneficiary may contest your wishes and drag the others into a court battle? Have you made a large property purchase without a joint title?
If you have named multiple beneficiaries and one should pass away, your estate and/or property is transferred to the remaining beneficiaries. However, if there is only one beneficiary designated and that person dies, then the property will pass into your probate estate which leads to a whole other time-consuming and expensive legal process.
Also, consider this – if there is a defective beneficiary designation, the designation will fail, and the property will end up in your probate estate and thus, in court. If there are items or property that have been left without a beneficiary designation or not joint titled, again – these will be subject to legal proceedings.
You can see why it is important to adjust your beneficiary designations as you see fit and possibly retitle property in the event of beneficiary’s death. This ensures that your valuable property does not pass into probate in the event of your death.
It is important to do a review of your estate plan often, especially as you age. Financial status and assets change, people pass away, and children grow. An estate planning lawyer at Bolinger Law Firm can do a review of your current estate plan, make sure you have beneficiary designations, and easily advise you on updates and current laws to make any number of changes at your request.