Posted on: 14 February 2018Share
When you pass away, a lengthy probate process can be frustrating for your heirs. Having to wait for months while your assets sit in limbo may be overwhelming to descendants who are not only grieving, but trying to take care of your final affairs. Luckily, there are a few things you can do now to help minimize the time that you estate spends in probate after your passing.
Give Away Extra Property
If you have property you do not live on, give it away to the people you would prefer have it right now, rather than waiting until you pass. Your recipient may have to pay gift tax on the property if its value exceeds a certain amount -- which varies by state -- but they would have to pay inheritance tax on it when you pass, anyways. You can also give away smaller possessions, like your cars and collections, while you are alive. Of course, this means you will have to do without them for the remainder of your days, so contemplate this carefully.
Establish Joint Ownership
If you are not ready to part with a property completely -- such as if you still live in a home -- you can work with a real estate attorney to add your preferred heir's name to the deed for that property right now. This way, when you pass away, the property will pass on to them without the need to go through probate. Note that the person who you add to the deed will have to declare ownership of the property on their taxes. Have them talk to their attorney or tax professional about how this will affect their tax burden.
Set Up a TOD
In some states, you can set up what is called a Transfer Upon Death, or TOD, on valuable property such as real estate and cars. What this designation does is transfer the title for the item directly to the named party in the event of your death. This is not legal in all states. If you pass away in a state where TODs are not binding, your items will still have to go through probate, so talk to a probate attorney about whether a TOD is right for you.
If you employ one or more of the measures above, you can make life a lot easier for your heirs once you pass. Meet with a probate attorney for more specific advice regarding your estate, or visit a website like http://valentineandvalentine.com to learn more.