Most people who have assets want the opportunity to direct how those assets will be handled after their death. Whether you want to make sure your children are educated, provide for grandchildren’s enrichment, leave a house to a niece, or leave a legacy to your favorite charity, you get to decide. With proper planning, you can even make many of these transactions happen smoothly, avoiding the length and expense of the probate process and ensuring your beneficiaries have quick access to the gifts you leave behind.
Much of your assets can be distributed in your lifetime by giving substantial and generous gifts. While there are tax implications to significant gifts, in most cases you can use your assets to pay for school and medical expenses, help your loved ones get started in life, and give to charity with very little trouble. Lifetime gifts can be a wonderful way for you to see the benefit of your gifts during your lifetime and enjoy the fruits of your legacy. Discuss a gifting plan with your estate attorney to ensure you understand the best way to meet your goals.
There are a number of different formats for joint ownership where you can own property, either real property, personal property, bank accounts, and other investments. You can jointly own property where one person inherits automatically on the death of the other, which is a form of joint ownership, referred to as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. However, you want to make sure that these types of arrangements are structured correctly to ensure that there is not a taxable event when you set up the account and upon your death. Further, if you or the person you are sharing the property with is facing a judgment, a divorce, or unpaid child support, the court may be able to reach into shared accounts.
Certain types of property such as life insurance, bank, and investment accounts can have a beneficiary named on the account. This is the individual who will receive the funds in the account or the insurance payout upon your death, no questions asked and no need for those assets to go through probate.
Transfer on Death Deed
If you own real estate, you can prepare a revocable transfer on death deed, that transfers your real estate to another party upon your death. This can be revoke at a later time if you change your mind. This transfer is effective upon your death and proof that you have passed away.
Setting up a trust while you are alive is a great way to transfer assets to be managed for the benefit of those you love in a structure and fashion that you approve of. Trusts can be set up to help with the care of special needs children, aging spouses (or even yourself as you age), grandchildren, and even to continue to make bequests after your death to those who you want to benefit.
Deciding the right path to take with your assets, and creating a pour-over will to manage any assets not otherwise dealt with, is important. It helps those you love divide up your assets exactly as you would prefer. At Dunn Law Firm, we take the time to get to know you and your specific situation in order to create a comprehensive estate plan that meets your goals. To learn more, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 to set up a free consultation today.