Anytime someone dies, their estate must go through the probate process as a means of settling debts and estate taxes. While there’s no way to avoid this process, there are legal steps you can take to limit what assets are liquidated to pay off these expenses. A probate lawyer in Jacksonville, FL, can help you use the following suggestions to your advantage.
Draft a Living Trust
Today, most people use a living trust in conjunction with their will to distribute their assets upon their death. While a will is needed to determine custody of minor children, outline final wishes, and manage other details, a living trust is better for handling your assets. As a private document, the trust doesn’t go through the probate process. Instead, the assets you name in the trust are transferred to the trustee in accordance with the terms you set.
Determine Real Estate Joint Ownership
How real estate is handled after your death can be an important consideration, regardless of your current marital status. If you simply leave property to an heir in your will, that property may have to be sold to pay estate taxes. However, that situation can be avoided by establishing joint ownership of the property. Your probate lawyer in Jacksonville, FL, can help you set up this type of ownership with a spouse, child, or other individuals ahead of time. When you do die, the ownership of the property immediately transfers sole ownership to the other owner of the property.
Use Pay-on-Death Options
Your investment and bank accounts offer an option for handling your liquid assets upon your death. A pay-on-death option permits the financial institution to immediately transfer your assets to a designated beneficiary upon your death. They won’t have access to your account while you’re alive, but, upon receiving notice of your death, your balances will be transferred to your beneficiaries. Afterward, the accounts will be closed.
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