Probate can be a time-consuming process. It’s also a matter of public record. To protect your privacy and to streamline the process to ensure your loved ones have access to their inheritance as soon as possible, you can take measures to avoid probate.
When considering estate planning, working with the attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein can be a great help. Strategic planning to avoid probate while optimizing your financial goals, ensures your beneficiaries promptly receive their inheritance according your wishes.
Listed below are some of the tools commonly used to avoid probate:
- Living trusts: Living trusts allow you to transfer possessions and accounts, such as real estate, bank accounts and vehicles, without going through the probate process. By transferring these assets to a trust and appointing yourself as trustee, you’ll still have access to your assets during your lifetime. When you die, your successor trustee will be able to transfer the assets to your designated beneficiaries, according to the terms of the trust. Since trusts are not a matter of public record, your finances—and theirs—will remain private.
- Joint ownership: You may choose to own property jointly, with right of survivorship. This allows joint owners to take full (or a greater share of) possession of an asset, such as real estate, upon one owner’s death. When you own property jointly, all owners have an equal share. For example, if ownership is divided between two spouses and their adult child, they would each own one-third of the property. If one spouse dies, the surviving spouse and adult child will automatically own a 50 percent share—without going through probate. This should be done carefully to make sure that the intended beneficiaries take title when one of the co-owners passes away.
- Transfer-on-death: Ohio allows transfer-on-death registration of securities, which transfers ownership to the named beneficiary upon your death. Similarly, you can register vehicles and real estate deeds to transfer upon your death. These can be revoked during your lifetime—your beneficiary has no property rights until you pass away.
- Naming beneficiaries: You may add “payable on death” beneficiaries to your bank accounts, including savings accounts and CODs. Similar to transfer-on-death, the bank account automatically becomes the beneficiary’s property upon your death, but you’re entitled to change beneficiaries and spend all your money during your lifetime, if you see fit.
Your estate planning attorney may have other suggestions to avoid probate. Reach out to the estate planning lawyers at Dworken & Bernstein today to learn more about your options.