Probate litigation can be costly, time-consuming and confusing for beneficiaries. The longer the court proceedings take, the more it will cost. In some cases, it may take several years to resolve, which might leave the heirs with less than the deceased wanted. Therefore, finding ways to avoid probate is in the beneficiaries’ best interest.
Joint property ownership
Jointly owned property may not go through the probate process due to the right of survivorship. In this situation, the living joint owner automatically takes over the property when the other joint owner dies. They might be required to provide some documents and complete some paperwork to establish that a joint ownership relationship existed between them and the deceased.
The forms of joint ownership common in Brooklyn, NY include:
- Joint tenancy with a right of survivorship: Individuals in this type of property ownership are known as joint tenants. If one of the joint tenants dies, the living tenant takes ownership of the property.
- Tenancy by the entirety: Property distribution in this form is similar to joint tenancy. However, tenancy by the entity in New York is only allowed for married couples and in the case of real estate.
You can also designate an heir to your financial assets and instruments upon your death. The listed beneficiaries will acquire all your financial assets once you die and thus evade probate. You can accomplish this by preparing:
- Payable on Death (POD) accounts: You can include a payable-on-death designation in your bank accounts to ensure that the bank will transfer the accounts to the listed beneficiary once you die. The heir will only have to provide the bank with proper identification in order to claim the account upon your death.
- Retirements accounts: When creating retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s, you are required to name a beneficiary.
- Transfer on Death (TOD) registration: You can sign a registration statement indicating that you want your securities (stocks, brokerage accounts, bonds) and vehicles transferred to a living loved one upon your death.
Revocable living trusts
Finally, you can create a revocable trust by transferring your property to an estate administrator who will hold it for your benefit. You have the right to revoke the trust at any time, and the trustee must be willing to use the property under your terms and conditions. You can instruct the trustee to transfer the property to your loved ones upon your death, which helps avoid the probate process entirely.