Even if you do not want to think about death, it is crucial to have proper estate planning to ensure that your property and assets will go to the right people after your passing. Any unprepared estate is subject to the probate process, in which the court monitors the division of your estate.
Generally, people try to avoid probate because it can take a long time to resolve. Not only does it give your loved ones an additional hassle to an already stressful time of their lives, but it will also cost more the longer it stays out of their reach. Even if they do eventually get certain property, the legal costs from the procedure will decrease the value of the estate they got.
To save your future heirs an additional headache, there are different actions you can take to minimize or avoid the probate process altogether. It is necessary to find out if you want your loved ones to receive your estate faster without going through many legal hurdles.
Creating jointly owned property
Choosing to jointly own property with someone else means that the second owner will automatically inherit the property once you die. You have to make sure that it is filed under joint tendency with the right of survivorship to ensure this.
Thanks to Colorado’s unequal share policy, you do not have to divide the estate 50/50 between you and the other owner. This means you can have the surviving owner own most of the property prior to your death to minimize their process of getting full ownership.
Establishing a payable on death (POD) account
One issue with jointly owned property is that conflicts could arise while you are alive about portions of the ownership. If you want to simply own something that you want transferable immediately after your death, creating a POD account might be preferable.
This death beneficiary means that you do not have to worry about someone controlling certain financial assets that you have placed in an account while you are alive. After your death, all they need to do is go to the bank and collect the money without dealing with any probate.
Establishing a will or trust
Most of the problematic probate court divisions are a result of the decedent not making or updating their will or trust prior to their death. While wills do not completely eliminate probate, they do minimize the cost by making it clear where you want some of your more important assets to go.
Colorado also allows you to create a living trust to avoid probate all together. All you need to do is outline what your trust beneficiaries get and choose a friend, family member or professional to be the trustee of your assets. Once you die, the trustee is able to transfer all of your assets to your inheritors without going through the probate court. If you feel like you might want to change trustees in the future, having a revocable living trust is preferable.
Whether you are thinking about attempting one or more of the strategies listed in this blog, it is urgent that you figure out how to divide your estate as soon as you can. It will be far easier for your inheritors to utilize what you have left with them if they do not have to wait for months of probate to receive your property.