Nobody knows how long we have on this earth. But one day, we will surely depart this world just as everyone else that came before us has done so. And when we are gone, that which we leave behind may be distributed to our heirs and beneficiaries. With a professionally written will, these assets will be more easily distributed to your intended beneficiaries with fewer complications in probate courts.
Almost certainly, among the most important assets to leave to our loved ones would be real estate or a family home. But other pieces of property, such as finances or family heirlooms, are also worth passing down.
But what are some of the best ways to leave property for your heirs using estate planning tools like wills and trusts?
Have You Considered Gifting Your Property?
Prior to death, you may consider gifting certain assets to your heirs, as this will mean they need not pass through probate or be considered under estate tax law.
But there are ways to designate gifts after death, too, called bequests. General bequests are gifts of a flat dollar amount, regardless of where the money comes from. Demonstrative bequests gift a certain number of assets and shares from certain accounts that were kept during life. Residuary bequests may gift whatever remaining property to certain chosen beneficiaries.
What is a Transfer-On-Death Deed?
If you are the sole owner of a piece of real estate, you may write a transfer-on-death deed, which states your intent to transfer the property’s deed to another person upon your passing.
The deed only becomes valid after death. Prior to death, you may edit or revoke the deed as you wish.
Would it Be Wise to Put Your Property Into a Trust?
Putting property and real estate into a trust is a way to protect your properties from probate and ensure that they are left to your heirs.
With the creation of a trust, you will need to name a trustee (or a successor trustee, if you intend to manage the trust until your death), who will see to it that the trust’s beneficiaries are properly taken care of.
What is a Community Property?
Community property is not owned by a sole individual and will be passed on to its co-owner after one of the two passes away. For married couples, you may decide to co-own a piece of property, naming either spouse as the joint tenant with the right of survivorship.
Also known as joint property ownership, co-owning a piece of property means that you do not have complete control over the property. But if you trust your partner to do with it what they wish, then there is no downfall here.