One goal of estate planning is to avoid or minimize probate. This is particularly important if you own real estate in more than one state. Why? Because each piece of real estate titled in your name must go through probate in the state where the property is located.
Cost and time can become issues
Probate is a court-supervised administration of your estate. If probate proceedings are required in several states, the process can become expensive.
For example, your representative will need to engage a probate lawyer in each state, file certain documents in each state and comply with other redundant administrative requirements. In addition to the added expense, the process may also delay the settlement of your estate.
Place all real estate into a revocable trust
If you have a revocable trust (sometimes called a “living trust”), the simplest way to avoid multiple probate proceedings is to ensure that the trust holds the title to all of your real estate. Generally, this involves preparing a deed transferring each property to the trust and recording the deed in the county where the property is located. Property held in a revocable trust generally doesn’t have to go through probate.
Before you transfer real estate to a revocable trust, we can help determine if doing so will have negative tax or estate planning implications. For example, will transferring a residence to a trust affect your eligibility for homestead exemptions from property taxes or other tax breaks? Will the transfer affect any mortgages on the property? Will it be subject to any real property transfer taxes?
It’s also important to consider whether transferring title to property will affect the extent to which it’s shielded from the claims of creditors. Please contact us with any questions.