Dealing with probate can prove to be a long, drawn out, and frustrating process-depending on how you go about it. In our latest post, learn how you can avoid probate court in West Palm Beach.
I have not come across anybody that wants to have to go through the probate process. Things are already in an emotionally heightened state, with so much going on. However, by planning ahead, people are able to totally avoid probate, giving their families the peace of mind they need when dealing with a sad and difficult life event.
So, Why Even Try to Avoid Probate?
There are a number of reasons why people want to avoid probate in West Palm Beach. First of all, there are the fees. THE FEES. yes FEES! Attorney fees, appraisal fees, court costs, and executor fees can all add up really fast. Sometimes, the executor will waive their fee in an effort to maintain fairness amongst the family-but this is not a guarantee. In addition, the probate process can often be very time-consuming. All of the assets and heirs will need to be accounted for, with proper notice being provided. Debts will need to be paid and settled before any inheritances are passed on to the beneficiaries. All in all, going through the probate process isn’t something anyone wants to deal with if they don’t have to.
Using A Trust For Assets
Setting up a Trust can ensure that assets will not be subject to the probate process. By setting up a revocable living trust a person can ensure items contained in it will not have to go through to the probate process. The trust will need to be set up while the person is of sound mind and able to decide for themselves what will go into the trust. This is something that is done totally advance. The trust can be thought of like a bucket, all assets the individual wants to place in the trust will then be set aside and managed accordingly. According to their predetermined decisions.
Joint Ownership Of Property?
When a person buys a home with someone else, they can enter a joint ownership agreement. With the right of survivorship. the property is passed to the surviving owner, without having to go through the probate process. It’s important to set this up when purchasing a property as adding someone to the deed after the fact may cost money.
Designations And Beneficiaries
Many times when setting up a bank account or life insurance policy, you will assign a beneficiary. By doing this, these items will not be subject to the probate process. A few states will allow you to create a transfer-on-death certificate for real estate you own, transferring the property after you die. Be sure that you keep your beneficiary designations up to date. Many people fail to make these changes after a divorce or after someone passes. This can lead to the wrong person (for example, your ex spouse, if you have one) getting everything or the asset having to go through the lengthy probate process.
Just Giving It All Away First
Before you die, you can consciously “give away” the majority of your assets to family members or other beneficiaries. If you don’t own the asset when you pass away, it won’t have to go through the probate process. Many assets, specifically items worth $11k or less can be given away without any federal tax penalty (be sure to check the specific numbers at the time of reading this). You can gift a person this amount once per year and in doing so, you can significantly reduce the value of your assets that go through the probate process. Doing this systematically, and scheduling it properly can be a huge benefit for everyone involved.
Smaller Estates, Based On The State
In certain states across the country, it can be easier to avoid probate if the person passing away has only a small estate. To be considered small, the amount of the estate will vary based on where you live.
It can be clearly beneficial for heirs to avoid the probate process in West Palm Beach. Between the fees, costs, and stress, the process can be daunting and overwhelming, and take a long time. If you want to learn more about how to avoid probate in West Palm Beach, reach out to us today!