After you pass away, your estate must pass through probate court, where a judge will oversee your personal representative’s settling of any outstanding debts and disbursement of your assets to your heirs. While this process usually is uneventful, sometimes a disagreement over the will or trust can turn into full-blown litigation. An even when things go smoothly, probate can be long, complicated and expensive process.
If you want your estate plan to get your assets to your heirs and beneficiaries with as little interference from probate as possible, you have options. Here are four assets that avoid probate entirely in Ohio:
- Revocable trusts. Property placed in a revocable trust does not pass through probate. As the trustmaker, you maintain control over the assets as the trustee during your life, and you can add or remove property from the trust at any time. However, property in a revocable trust is not shielded from your creditors after your death
- Real estate owned as Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship or Tenancy By the Entirety. When you own your home or other real property in one of these forms, ownership passes to your partner(s) upon your death. Your partner could be your spouse or children
- Life insurance policies and retirement accounts, if you have a designated beneficiary for your account
- Certain bank accounts, specifically those with a Payable On Death or Transfer On Death clause
While it is common to own your own home and have life insurance and retirement accounts, a revocable trust or bank account with a Payable On Death or Transfer On Death clause may not fit your particular estate planning needs. Besides minimizing the effect of probate, your estate plan should be carefully tailored to your assets, your family and your final wishes.
Your best way of guaranteeing this tailoring is honored after you are gone is to consult an experienced attorney.