Make no mistake, estate planning can be tricky. If you’re considering seeking legal advice for getting your final affairs in order in Tampa, there are several lawyers who can help. Why should you consider taking steps to make sure your wishes are spelled out, though? Easy. Having your plans in writing can help your loved ones avoid the costly process of probate. Your Tampa lawyer can help you with the finer points of estate planning, to be sure, but here are some general ideas to help you help your loved ones avoid probate after your passing.
The simplest thing you can do is to write a living trust. An alternative to a last will and testament, a living trust is a document that places your assets “in trust,” to be managed by a trustee for your descendants and beneficiaries. This document helps you and your loved ones avoid the probate process because, technically, the assets and property are no longer owned by you, but rather held by the trust itself. In addition to spelling out what you wish done with your estate, a living trust can also help avoid the court costs associated with the probate process.
If a living trust is not really a feasible option, you should definitely consider naming beneficiaries on your retirement and bank accounts. Though it may seem like an easy thing to do, surprisingly a lot of policy holders neglect to follow this simple step. Take the time to contact your insurance agent or retirement plan administrator to make sure that you’ve filled out the proper paperwork, and be sure to ask if your spouse is already a part owner of these plans or not. Doing so will save your loved ones a headache in the long run.
Finally, consider a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship. While this is specifically for property like real estate, owning a property jointly allows it to pass automatically to your spouse in the event of your death, avoiding the costs and headache of the probate process entirely. This is actually an area of property law where it doesn’t technically matter if you’re married or not, so long as one of the owners survives.
Probate can be costly and time consuming. Make a time of great distress just a little bit easier for them.