Can I Avoid Probate?
Probate is not a foregone conclusion, and there are things that you can do to bypass the probate process – or at least to minimize the role it plays. Probate is a legal mechanism for assigning the property of someone who’s died to his or her survivors. If you have a will, it will go through probate, but the wishes outlined therein will guide the process. The fact is that probate is often a complicated, lengthy process that can stall the division of your assets, that can cost your estate in terms of various fees, and that will not protect your family’s privacy (the records are available to the public). If you are interested in minimizing your exposure to probate – or in eliminating the need entirely – speak with an experienced North Carolina financial planning attorney today.
Ownership and Probate
How the ownership of your properties is structured is critical to your ability to avoid probate. Often, the path forward involves carefully structuring ownership with an eye for the simplest, least expensive way to transfer assets. As such, there are several considerations you will likely need to examine, including:
- Gift Giving – If you are interested in avoiding the complicated – and sometimes costly – transfer of property after your death, you can gift the property now. Such gifts can play an important role in your estate planning, but you’ll need to be very clear on the issue. If the gift is part of the recipient’s portion of your estate, this will need to be established in writing to help ensure that he or she won’t become the recipient of more property if, ultimately, your estate does proceed to probate. Finally, if the value of the gift exceeds a specific limit, the federal gift tax will likely come into play.
- The Establishment of Joint Ownership – If you own property with someone else and have a survivorship right, the property bypasses probate and becomes the property of the sole surviving owner. There are significant complications that can arise from establishing joint ownership of your property with someone else, and as with other issues related to estate planning, it’s always in your best interest to confer with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer regarding the matter.
- A Living Trust – The establishment of a living trust is one of the most robust tools you can employ to help you avoid probate. These trusts are also known as revocable living trusts because they can be revoked at any time before your death. This means that your trust can evolve right along with your estate planning needs as your life unfolds before you.
You Need an Experienced North Carolina Estate Planning Attorney on Your Side
If your goal is to avoid probate altogether – or to minimize your estate’s exposure to probate – there are steps that you can take. The dedicated estate planning attorneys at King Law Firm in North Carolina are committed to helping you make plans that carefully balance your priorities while protecting your estate. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact or call us today.