If you pass on without a will or have a very basic one, your estate will go through probate. This is a process of distributing your estate to your heirs.
The probate process is almost always expensive, long, and stressful. Fortunately, you can take a few simple steps to save yourself and your loved ones valuable time and money. Here are a few legal ways to avoid probate:
Distribute your assets while you’re still alive
A straightforward way to simplify or exempt your property from probate is by reducing its value while still alive. Instead of leaving your property to your loved ones after you die, you can give them your assets before that time. This can also help reduce or eliminate future federal and state taxes.
Transfer your property to a living trust
A living trust, also known as a revocable trust, will allow you to retain control over your assets during your lifetime. The named trustee will then transfer your assets to the designated beneficiaries after your death. This is an ideal choice if you have a sizeable estate or have a large number of beneficiaries. Since your assets will no longer be under your ownership or part of your estate, they won’t go through probate.
Title your property jointly
Property that is held jointly with the right of survivorship is automatically transferred to the surviving joint owner. Generally, there are two ways you can hold property jointly in Illinois:
- Tenancy by the entirety: This type of joint ownership is only available for married couples.
- Joint tenancy with a right of survivorship: This type of property ownership affords co-owners survivorship rights upon your death.
Whether your estate is large or modest, you may need a proper estate plan to help avoid probate. Estate planning can also help put solutions in place to protect your inheritors’ finances and privacy after your passing.