Planning for after your death might seem like a grim thing to do, but estate planning can be a wonderful way to provide for and protect your loved ones after you are gone. In order to ensure that your loved ones can avoid probate proceedings, be sure to do the following things when planning your estate.
Set Up Agreements of Joint Ownership
When you own property or a business with someone, to make sure that it goes to them after you pass away, it is a good idea to set up an agreement that grants both of you joint ownership. After your death, all your interests in the property or business will pass seamlessly to the other person.
It is important that you realize that once a joint ownership contract is in place, your will cannot supersede that agreement. For example, if you have entered into a business with a friend who now has joint ownership, even if your will names your son as the heir to that business, the joint ownership agreement will still stand.
Update the Status of Your Retirement Accounts
One easy way to help your loved ones avoid probate proceedings is to have your retirement accounts go directly to your family. If you are like many people, the payee on your retirement accounts is you. To make things easier for your family, make sure that each retirement account is set to "pay on death" to your beneficiaries. You may think that happens automatically, but in many cases it does not.
When you have finished writing your will and setting up your insurance policies and other documents, you might not think about estate planning anymore. However, in order to help your family avoid probate, you need to be sure that you're reassessing your beneficiary list on a regular basis. Your spouse might die, or your daughter may get married, or other life events may prompt you to make changes in your will.
If you do not reassess what you've done and make changes accordingly, when you die, some of your assets may still be going to someone who has also passed away or someone you no longer want to give anything to. Take the time to look over your documents at least once every few months so that your most current wishes are known.
Use the information above to help you make the right decisions when working on estate planning. Talk to a probate attorney like Wilson Deege Despotovich Riemenschneider & Rittgers or others so you can be sure your family can avoid having to go to probate court after you pass away.