If you have a spouse, child or other person that is financially dependent on you, they may need immediate access to funds from your estate in the event of your death. As such, you will need to consider how you can transfer some or all of your assets to them in a manner that will avoid probate – so as to avoid having the assets ‘frozen’ during the probate process.
You can avoid probate in several ways.
Firstly, you can avail of some of the probate free transfer devices such as pay on death bank accounts, transfer on death securities or even life policies with designated beneficiaries. In each case, you can nominate a beneficiary for the proceeds of the account/policy and the financial institution holding the same will quickly arrange the transfer of the proceeds to the named beneficiary upon production of your death certificate. These methods provide a great source of readily available funds following your death and avoid probate.
Secondly, you could transfer your assets to a living trust. Assets held in a living trust will not become part of your probate estate because the assets are not held in your name at the time of your death. This keeps them outside of the private process and enables them to avoid probate and be quickly distributed to the beneficiaries of the trust following your death.
Thirdly, you can convert assets that you own solely into jointly owned assets. Where assets are jointly owned, it is possible to designate that a right of survivorship will apply to these assets. This means that when one of the joint owners dies, the asset will pass directly to the surviving joint owner – without the need for probate. Of course, the joint owner can be a friend or relative; and the assets can comprise of anything from real estate to cash in a bank account. Thus, in the same way as the other devices mentioned above, the surviving joint owner can quickly claim ownership of the asset following your death by simply producing a certified copy of your death certificate. This method presents another way to avoid probate of your assets.
How Can EstateBee Help You?
For more information on how you can avoid probate, please review the other articles on our website or contact the EstateBee team.
Alternatively, check out our book entitled “Make Your Own Living Trust & Avoid Probate“. In it, our experienced estate planning team explores all of the most commonly used probate avoidance measures in depth, explains what works and what doesn’t and how to organise your estate in a way that maximises your probate avoidance measures while reducing the number of your assets that go through probate, and in turn the costs of probate. It also explains why allowing some assets go through probate could be absolutely essential for you and why most people should still make a last will and testament.