If you have ever had to deal with an estate that was not properly established by a trust, you understand what a time-consuming and expensive process it can be, both financially and emotionally. And that’s if everything goes smoothly and someone doesn’t try to challenge the terms of the will.
One reason that people spend the money and time to set up a trust is that it will completely avoid probate, while a standard will does not. Not only does improper legacy planning cause increased stress and expenses for those left behind, but all of your information becomes public as well. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like my personal business on the street.
If you do not think you are a good candidate for a trust, due to the cost of setting one up, there are a couple of steps you can take to keep your information private and to ensure that your money and property will be passed to the exact person or people you want it to and avoid probate.
One step is to have your money in products that allow for a designated beneficiary. Annuities and life insurance both have beneficiary forms that you fill out upon application to identify who is supposed to get the money upon your passing. And those can be updated or changed at any time.
In addition to protecting your money from market losses, annuities, and life insurance will bypass any probate that could be enacted on the rest of your estate, as long as you have a beneficiary listed. Therefore, saving money, time, and emotional distress for your loved ones.
Another step is to have a Transfer On Death, or “TOD”, on file with certain assets such as your brokerage account. You can also list a “TOD” on your cars, boats, and RVs. Apparently, not all states allow this, but I know they do in MO because I just added a “TOD” on my wife’s car when we had it titled.
When it comes to bank accounts, you may want to have a Payable On Death on file, or a “POD”. Neither of these options, the “TOD” or “POD”, causes you to lose control while you’re alive, but they will allow you to maintain control of where the money goes even from the grave.
Just like annuities are a niche specialty in the financial world, estate planning is a niche specialty in the legal world. And just like any niche industry, you want to deal with an expert. I’m definitely not writing this article to give you legal advice, but to make you aware of the intricacies of such planning. Always speak with an estate planning attorney.
I have attached a very informative article called, Reduce Your Probate Costs This article will give you a 30,000-foot view of where to start tackling this complex subject.
And if leaving money behind is a goal of yours, you should check out my video, “The Debate Is Over. Annuities Improve Portfolio Outcomes.” I will show you how implementing an annuity could improve the overall performance of your portfolio so could have quite a bit more left over for your beneficiaries by protecting a portion of your money.
As always, I hope this finds you well and please don’t hesitate to book a short call to get your questions answered by clicking the “Schedule a Call” button in the top right corner of the screen.
All the best,