Losing a loved one can be emotionally taxing. There are legal obligations associated with the deceased’s property. Determining their wishes can appear to be a daunting task without a previously arranged estate plan or will. Resolving these legal and financial affairs can be stressful and tedious. However, there are options to allow for a smooth probate process.The court can legitimize a will so the property and money can be easily distributed to the closest relatives or beneficiaries.Although, in larger cases where the estate is significant, or the will is opposed by an outsider, the probate process can be costly.
How Can I Prevent a Costly Probate Process?
The common solution to automatically avoid probate is to create a will or living trust whereby you transfer ownership of property and assets to an established beneficiary or beneficiaries. This will inhibit the need for probate altogether. After you pass away, the beneficiary is given legal authority to distribute your assets in whatever manner they deem appropriate. After this trust is established and you pass away, your assets and property no longer legally belong to you or your estate. Understand that while some assets are included within the trust, it is possible for them to be subjected to estate taxes. Generally, the deceased’s husband or wife shares joint ownership, however, it isn’t mandatory nor is it always the case. In some instances, a close friend shares joint custody of the deceased’s property. Once the individual passes, the other joint owner of the asset will be awarded sole ownership. Even though this is one avenue to determine how your assets are allocated after death, it isn’t the only option.
It’s common for individuals to divide their estate in a written will. This is an excellent avenue to explore when considering how your assets will be allocated. With this will, you have the opportunity to gift various beneficiaries with specific assets. However, it should be noted that when gifting costly items the government may impose gift taxes on the assets. It is required for beneficiaries to be designate prior to passing for retirement accounts and insurance policies to award the funds to the beneficiaries. Government issued identification must be presented for the beneficiary to collect, along with the deceased’s death certificate.
Speak With an Attorney
An estate planning attorney such as the estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ who specializes in the field will have the knowledge to help you understand your estate options. They should be familiar with the laws specific to your state and will provide you with the steps necessary to comply with legal requirements.
Thanks to authors at Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into Estate Planning.