A primary purpose of estate planning is making sure your assets are designated correctly so that they pass automatically, allowing an estate to avoid probate.
Some common examples of assets that are not subject to probate include:
- A life insurance policy or annuity payable to a specific recipient
- A joint bank account or investment account that includes right of survivorship
- Real property titled as “joint tenants with right of survivorship”
- Property owned jointly by spouses as “tenants by the entirety”
- Assets placed into a revocable living trust or an irrevocable trust
- Assets removed from an estate via lifetime gifts or qualifying trusts
- Accounts designated as “payable on death” or “transfer on death”
Simply having a will that subjects your estate to probate is not sufficient to protect assets against taxes, including income tax, capital gains tax, estate tax, inheritance tax, generation skipping transfer tax and gift tax.
Smart estate planning, including the use of a living trust, can help your heirs avoid the time and expense of probate and ensure they inherit the funds you intend for them to receive in a timely manner.
If you would like more information on how the use of trusts in estate planning can help you protect your assets, contact our Fort Myers law firm to schedule your free consultation.