In Honor of April Fool’s Day

estate planning

March will shortly pass us by, and April first is nearly upon us.

Instead of telling you how to avoid probate, in honor of April Fools Day, we decided to provide you with a list of how to guarantee that your assets will go through the probate process when you pass away.

  1. Own everything in your name only
  2. Fail to name beneficiaries on all of your accounts, no transfer on death designations either
  3. Don’t own anything jointly, and if you do own real estate jointly, have it owned as tenants in common (note that only sometimes does owning real estate as tenants in common make sense)
  4. Create a trust, but don’t put anything in it. We lawyers call it “the funding of your trust.” If you don’t put anything in your trust, there is nothing for your successor Trustee to distribute and then the assets go through probate. Your estate planning attorney should assist you with the funding of your trust.

We have an example of an estate planning attorney who drafted the trust, but didn’t assist with any of the funding and this person thought he was “all set” because he had a trust. Unfortunately, he died of an unexpected heart attack, and as it turns out, everything was not “all set.” There was nothing in his trust and all of his assets went through probate. His probate estate incurred $20,000.00+ in legal fees to go through the probate process. Without funding your trust with assets, your trust will not accomplish your goal of avoiding probate and of making it easier and less expensive for your loved ones and beneficiaries down the road.

Of course, this list is in honor of April Fools Day, and truly, we don’t want your beneficiaries to go through probate. In fact, our firm’s goal is to work closely with each client and the client’s financial advisor so that the client’s estate plan is funded properly, which in turn then eliminates the need for court involvement and probate. This being the case, the answer to the question “to fund”, or “not to fund,” is almost always “fund.”

Please contact our office on how we can assist you with avoiding the probate process.