Using a last will and testament for estate planning can address many issues—but sometimes at the expense of privacy and expeditiousness. While wills do have their uses, you can use these three methods to ensure that your estate property passes quickly to your beneficiaries. No matter when the will was written, and even if specific mention of a given estate asset is addressed in the will, these three moves will automatically override the will. For example, if you wish to leave the money in your savings account to your uncle and mention that in the will, a Transfer On Death (TOD) that designates a different beneficiary takes precedence over the will. Read on to learn more.
This legal instrument is similar to a will but better in many respects. As the owner of the trust, you appoint a trustee who fulfills a role that is very much like an executor, or personal representative. Additionally, just as with a will, you can set the trust up to name beneficiaries to be awarded property after your death. The property named in the trust does not need to be probated, nor does the trust itself need to go through probate. In fact, upon your death, the trustee need only distribute your property to the beneficiaries without the usual months-long wait for probate to be complete. The trust has another big advantage over a will: privacy. Since the trust doesn't need to be filed in court, the contents of the trust are completely private. It's worth noting that the beneficiaries named in the trust have no way of knowing what the other beneficiaries are receiving.
Real estate deeds may be amended to include the name of anyone you chose, as long as this action is done before your death. Several different iterations of deeds exist to enable the owner of real estate to retain rights to the property prior to death. It should be noted that real estate deeds are commonly public documents, meaning anyone with an interest can view them.
3. Transfer on Death (TOD).
Also referred to as Payable on Death (POD), these designations are often used on bank accounts and investment accounts. Placing the name of a person on the form that is provided by the particular institution will result in a transfer of that asset to the named person without the asset going through probate. For example, you may want to designate that your three children gain the funds in your investment account upon your death. Each of the three children will be awarded 33.3% of the funds upon presentation of the death certificate.
Be sure to discuss the above methods and more with your estate planning attorney at a firm like Skeen Law Offices.