Dealing with the loss of a loved one is hard enough to do on its own. When you have to add in the confusion of probate court, it makes matters even worse. Wouldn’t you rather ensure that your loved ones are able to have your assets upon your passing without the hassle and cost of court? Not only does it cost money, it takes time and causes havoc for everyone involved. So how can you avoid probate court in Massachusetts? Check out the tips below.
Set up a Trust
Placing your assets in trust eliminates the need for probate. Any assets you put in the revocable trust are protected and can be disbursed according to your wishes. When you set up a trust, though, it’s important that are of sound mind so that no one can contest the trust and its validity. Work with a trusted attorney to set up your trust to ensure that all legalities are followed.
When your assets are in a trust, no one can touch them. This protects you not only upon your passing (avoiding probate court) but protects your assets from any legal issues or lawsuits that may come your way. It’s a great way to protect your estate both while you’re alive and once you’re gone.
Add a Joint Owner
Any assets of any worth should have a joint owner. If you pass away, the co-owner automatically has the right of survivorship. In other words, the assets don’t have to go through probate. It’s important to set up your co-owners when you are of sound mind to ensure that the process is completed successfully. With the right setup, the assets go directly to your survivor without the delay of probate.
Most people set up joint ownership with their children or spouses. Remember, the person you put on the account has access to it, so choose wisely.
Depending on the type of assets you own, you may also be able to name specific beneficiaries. Life insurance and bank accounts are the most common assets that have beneficiaries. It’s important to keep up with your designated beneficiaries, though.
Many people forget about changing beneficiaries when they go through life changes. Keep a spreadsheet of your assets and the designated beneficiaries and check on it from time to time to make sure it’s up-to-date. This is especially important for life insurance policies you have at jobs that you may leave – the policy may stay intact, which is why updating your beneficiaries is crucial.
Give Your Assets Away
One last way, which isn’t the most common is to give your assets away before you pass away. As long as you don’t gift more than the annual gift tax maximum, you may be able to get away without any tax issues. In 2020, for example, you can gift up to $15,000 to one person and not have to pay taxes.
Some people choose this method because they can see their loved ones enjoy their assets while they are still alive. It’s a way to ensure that your money goes where you intended without the worry of probate court.
Reasons to Avoid Probate
You may wonder why you should avoid probate since it seems like a lot of trouble to make sure it gets into the right hands, but probate is definitely much more complicated than adding beneficiaries or setting up a trust.
You may want to avoid probate because of the:
- Excessive fees – You have to go through probate court, which means paying attorney fees, court costs, and possibly even appraisal fees. The costs can easily eat away at the proceeds your loved ones receive after it’s all said and done.
- Takes time – Your loved ones likely need the proceeds of your estate to take care of your final wishes. They may also need it to cover their daily living expenses, especially if you were the breadwinner in the family. Probate court can tie up your assets for months or even years.
Avoiding probate court in Massachusetts should be your top priority when setting up your estate. Your loved ones will have a much easier time financially while grieving you when you set up your estate appropriately.