Most people just automatically think about wills when estate planning is brought up, but you should know that there are several alternative ways to deal with estate matters that may be more efficient. It is certain that everyone needs a will, however, since some of its facets are irreplaceable by any other means. Read on to learn more about three methods that force a will to step back.
Don't be intimidated by this term; this legal method of dealing with estate matters is actually very straightforward and simple, and it mirrors a will in some ways. For example, just like with a will, a person is appointed to be in charge of the trust. This person is referred to as a trustee, and their role is very much like that of a personal representative (executor). Just like a will, a trust names beneficiaries to receive property. Just like a will, a trust can handle any type of property left behind. A trust, however, really shines when you consider how it differs from a will.
The trust, and anything addressed therein, does not need to go through the probate process. Probate can take several months to accomplish, but a trust allows beneficiaries to collect their property right away, mere weeks after the death, by presenting the death certificate.
Probated wills become public information, but a trust remains confidential. Even the other beneficiaries have no way of knowing what the other beneficiaries receive.
2. Transfer On Death Designations
This simple process can help direct funds from a checking account, a savings account, or an investment account toward a named person with no need to wait for probate to end. This can be accomplished by the account holder by filling out a short form, and its presence overrides any provisions in a will, even if the property was specifically mentioned in the will.
If you are a property owner, you can make changes in your deed before you pass away and keep that real estate away from the probate court. Talk to your estate attorney about performing a "quit claim" on a present deed that changes its ownership. For example, you can add a person to your deed and they will automatically become the owner of the property once you are gone. Speak with your attorney about how property is handled if you are leaving behind a spouse.
Speak to an estate attorney to learn more.