Helping people get their estate plan in order brings me a lot of joy, because there is a deep level of satisfaction that comes from knowing this area is buttoned up. It’s an easy task to put off until “tomorrow.”
Here is a quick rundown of how assets are transferred upon death:
- By Title – A joint account automatically transfers to the other joint owner.
- By Beneficiary – retirement accounts, life insurance, and even non-retirement investment accounts can be directed via a beneficiary; this supersedes what the Will says.
- By Will – If assets aren’t transferred via title or beneficiary they will flow through your Will. In the process, they have to go through probate. Probate is an inefficient and painful court process to get assets where they need to go.
That said, if you plan correctly, you may be able to avoid probate all together. This is usually done by establishing a revocable living trust. This can be a huge benefit for your spouse or the next generation!
Do you need an estate plan or does your plan need an update?