Wouldn’t it be great if your family didn’t have to go to court to settle your estate? It’s possible to legally avoid putting your estate through probate or at least simplify the process. It just takes a little advanced planning on your part and some help from a qualified Arizona estate planning lawyer.
Here are just a few ways to dispose of your estate safely, quickly, and legally:
1. Joint Ownership
In Arizona, we have several types of joint ownership:
- Joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTWOS). Anyone can use joint ownership, for example, by adding another person to your bank account or real estate deed. You should be very careful who you name as an owner to your property, though to avoid unintended results.
- Community property with rights of survivorship. This method is limited to married couples who own real estate or other valuable property together. When one member of the couple dies, their interest in the property automatically passes to the survivor.
2. Payable-on-death and transfer-on-death
By naming beneficiaries to your financial accounts, your money passes directly to those beneficiaries and not through probate. Payable-on-death (POD) beneficiaries do not have access to or control the money while you are alive.
Complete a transfer-on-death registration for any securities you own and, like the name says, your securities transfer to you beneficiaries only after you pass away.
Transfer-on-death deeds, also known as Beneficiary Deeds, provide a fairly easy way for you to transfer real estate after your death.
Even vehicles may be transferred to beneficiaries by preparing transfer-on-death registrations.
3. Living Trusts:
Revocable trusts, also known as living trusts, allow you to avoid probate and decrease your potential estate tax burden. You maintain ownership and control of property, while setting up a way for your trust assets to be given to your beneficiaries.
Most of the assets you own can be placed in a living trust, but how does that work?
First, you would have an attorney prepare a document to set up the trust. This document names a trustee, at least one successor trustee, and at least one beneficiary. Usually you will be the first trustee and will maintain control of the trust and assets until you are no longer able.
Once the trust document is ready, you transfer your property into the trust. After you have passed away, your successor trustee then distributes the assets to the beneficiaries named in the trust according to the terms of the trust.
With just a little planning on your part, you can save your loved ones the time and expense of going to court to settle your estate.
To discuss your concerns with an experienced Arizona lawyer, call us at (480) 418-8448 or check out one of our free seminars. We provide estate planning advice for clients throughout Arizona, including Ahwatukee, Chandler, Gilbert, Sun Lakes, Mesa, and Tempe.