Estate planning allows you to ensure your wishes are carried out and your family is taken care of after you are gone. A careful plan can save your loved ones’ time and legal costs so that they do not have to go to court over disputes.
Probate is a court-supervised process designed to sort out the transfer of a person's property after they have died. Some property passes automatically to another party upon death. Certain trusts, life insurance policies, and "Totten Trusts" (also called "payable-on-death" accounts) are capable of avoiding probate by making transferring ownership to the beneficiary before death, or automatically upon the creator's death. Other property that is subject to probate will be examined by the court and granted to the appropriate party.
Transferring assets outside of the probate process can not only save the estate a lot of time and expense, but can also help loved ones avoid years of legal hassle. There are four general ways to pass on your property and avoid the probate system:
Joint Property Ownership
Revocable Living Trusts
A self-directed individual retirement account (SDIRA) is a type of individual retirement account (IRA) that can hold a variety of alternative investments normally prohibited from regular IRAs. Although the account is administered by a custodian or trustee, it's directly managed by the account holder—the reason it's called "self-directed."
Many people will use their self-directed IRAs to invest in farmland or rental properties. We assist individuals in navigating the IRS rules in order to properly make these investments.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
A guardian is a person that is chosen or appointed by the court to make legal and non-monetary decisions for another person because of the person’s age, incapacity, or disability. A guardianship is the legal concept or framework for such services.
A conservator is a person that is chosen by the family or appointed by the court to take care of someone’s financial decisions when the person is unable to make his or her own decisions due to age or disability.
Wills & Trusts
A will is used for a person to state preferences about their estate after their death. Wills assist in the transition for transferring property and avoiding tax burdens.
Living wills allow a person to inform others about his or her medical and end-of-life treatment decisions.
Trusts are estate planning tools that help you manage property during your life and allow for a smooth transition of your assets after death.