When someone dies, their property passes to their heirs and beneficiaries in one of three different ways. A person’s assets will legally transfer either by title, by contract, or through probate. Most of the time it’s better to avoid probate, which saves the estate costs, allows for ease of administration, is less stressful, and transfers assets quickly.
One way to avoid probate is through jointly titling assets. Jointly titling means creating a joint tenancy. In other words, holding an estate or property jointly by two or more parties, the share of each passing to the other or others on death. Therefore, assets that are jointly titled pass automatically to the survivor.
Additionally, contractual arrangements allow owners to designate a beneficiary to receive either all or a percentage of their property. Retirement plans, life insurance and stocks, are a few examples of assets that have beneficiary designations. The deceased’s assets will pass directly to the named beneficiaries, and not go through probate.
A final way to transfer assets is by gifting. Anything of monetary value can be gifted. Not only is a gift a way of expressing love and affection, but it reduces the size of the estate as well. There are annual and life-time exclusion limits as to how much someone can receive in gifts, and there are tax consequences for exceeding those limits. Please consult an attorney, CPA, financial planner or other professional before you using any of the strategies below.
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This article is for educational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice about your case or situation. There may be exceptions to the information outlined above. Please consult an attorney if you have specific questions about your estate plan.Follow me on social media: