Defined simply, probate is the court process of proving the validity of a will and transferring assets of the deceased as specified by the will. It has been described as a lawsuit you bring on yourself, paid for by you, to transfer your assets to other people. This process can be time consuming, costly and avoidable. In the state of Arizona there are several options, which can be used to avoid probate.
By creating a living trust you will be able to transfer all your trust assets to specified people outside the probate process. A living trust is a document that allows you to name a person to take over as trustee or a successor trustee of your estate after you pass. The trustee is then able to make transfers to your specified beneficiaries and avoid probate.
Joint ownership allows property to automatically transfer from one joint owner to another. When you own property with someone else, a spouse for example, when you pass on he or she automatically becomes the sole owner of the property. Because of the automatic transfer of ownership, probate is avoided. As a caution, Joint ownership may be useful in certain circumstances, but it should be used with care. Among the issues to consider are the liability issues for joint owners.
Other Things to Consider
Payable-on-death designation for bank accounts allows you to name someone to receive money from the bank on passing. They do not have access to the account before you die, but this allows the person access to the money when something happens to you and avoids probate. Transfer-on-death registration for securities allows you to name a person to receive any stocks or bonds.
As with Joint Ownership, automatic transfers should be carefully considered, particularly where an individual has multiple heirs.
At Kamper Estrada, LLP we pride ourselves in taking a thorough approach to estate planning. If you have questions on whether a living trust, joint ownership or other planning tools are right for you, please contact us today.