Avoiding Probate

Many of our clients come to us with questions about how to avoid probate. In addition to trusts, there are several probate avoidance strategies that may be right for you. At the Law Office of Thomas G. Bassler, P.C. we take the time to develop a comprehensive estate planning strategy to fit your unique circumstances.

We Advise You On Non Probate Asset Types

As background, not every type of asset must go through the probate process. These non-probate assets transfer without court involvement to the co-owner, if applicable, or to the named beneficiary. Non-probate assets may include:

· Property held in a trust

· Jointly owned property

· Payable on death bank accounts

· Transfer on death securities

· Life insurance policies

· Retirement accounts

We Explain The Pros And Cons Of Each Option

It is important to understand the practical effects associated with these assets. For example, property that is jointly owned with rights of survivorship simply transfers to the surviving owner, such as a tenancy in common, joint tenancy, or tenancy by the entirety. However, with joint ownership comes joint responsibility for taxes and other obligations. Instead of naming an heir as a co-owner of your property, you may prefer transferring that real property or asset into a revocable living trust.

Assets owned through contractual rights, such as life insurance and retirement accounts, generally transfer to the named beneficiary without going through probate. However, it is important to understand that these assets still count toward your total taxable estate. In addition, you must take care to have contingencies in place should your named beneficiary pass before you. If you are concerned about covering the administrative expenses and debts of your estate, you may wish to name a trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.

We Help You Develop A Comprehensive Estate Plan

As this discussion illustrates, there are a variety of probate avoidance strategies. However, converting your estate entirely into non-probate assets will not satisfy your family obligations, communicate your intentions or values, or pay any taxes or debts of the estate that may come due.

Only a comprehensive estate plan can fulfill your aims. A unifying document, such as a last will and testament, can describe the various assets comprising your estate. Additional planning documents, such as a health care directive and living revocable trust, can describe your specific intentions regarding medical care and how property held in trust should be distributed to the beneficiaries.

Contact An Experienced Probate Avoidance Attorney

The San Antonio Law Office of Thomas G. Bassler, P.C. can help you insulate your estate against probate. We offer a variety of probate avoidance strategies. To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us online or call 210-826-8885.