One common way to avoid probate of real estate after the owner dies is to hold the title to the property in joint names with rights of survivorship with children or other beneficiaries. This is accomplished by drafting a new deed adding the names of the children and certain legal terms and then recording the new deed.
Many people believe that they do not need an attorney to help them prepare and record the new deed. Instead, they think that a deed form, downloaded from the internet or obtained from a book, is easily filled out and recorded. But deeds are in fact legal documents that must comply with state law in order to be valid. In addition, in most states, property will not pass to the other owners listed in a deed without probate unless certain specific legal terms are used in the deed.
Inheritance protection is often only considered if beneficiaries are considered unable to handle their inheritance on their own. However, if you think you only need to create discretionary lifetime trusts for young beneficiaries, problem beneficiaries, or financially inexperienced beneficiaries, then think again. In this day and age of frivolous lawsuits and high divorce rates, discretionary lifetime trusts should be considered for all of your beneficiaries, minors and adults alike.
Payable on Death accounts, or “POD accounts” for short, have become popular for avoiding probate. I have heard some people refer to POD accounts as the “poor-man’s” estate plan; I do not agree.
It’s a common belief that estate planning means death planning. However, planning for what happens after you die is only one piece of the estate planning puzzle. It is just as important to make a plan for what happens if you become mentally incapacitated.
Comprehensive estate planning must include incapacity planning. Estate planning is about more than your legacy after death, avoiding probate, and saving on taxes. It must also be about having a plan in place to manage your affairs if you become mentally incapacitated during your life.