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Side-stepping probate

It’s a word that most estate administrators don’t want to hear, but might not be able to sidestep hearing unless a testator is pretty savvy. Probate is the word most Colorado executors cringe at since it’s known for being a complicated, drawn out process. But if a testator gets wise legal advice during the writing of an estate, probate could be avoided — could being the operative word.

Asset-securing methods

There are ways to secure assets from being subjected to probate and one method is to convert them to transfer or payable-upon-death accounts. An estate beneficiary becomes the owner of the accounts when the testator dies. In terms of real estate, joint ownership is a planning tool used to bypass probate. When one owner dies, the property will belong to the other owner, but the title must be in both owners’ names.

Revocable living trusts and gifts

Revocable living trusts are created during the lifetime of the grantor and specify how property will be divided upon death. This type of trust can be modified or cancelled at any time. The important thing here is to place all valuable assets in that trust so they will pass to the trustee instead of the grantor so the assets are no longer a part of the estate. Gifting assets means they no longer belong to the testator are do not have to go through probate. The annual tax exclusion for a gift currently sits at $15,000.

It is true that some Colorado residents might find probate complex and confusing. An attorney experienced in estate planning law may be able to help a client by pointing out some issues regarding probate he or she may not even have considered. Obtaining legal advice in these instances may make an estate plan more thorough.

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