Dealing with probate can feel like a never-ending and frustrating task. In our newest article, discover the steps to skip probate court in South Carolina!
No one really wants to deal with probate, especially when they intend to sell the inherited property after a family member has passed away. By thinking ahead and making plans, you can sidestep probate, providing your family with the comfort they deserve during this challenging and emotional time.
Why Avoid Probate?
Many people in South Carolina want to avoid probate, and there are several good reasons for that. First and foremost, it’s about the costs involved. When someone passes away, there are various expenses that can quickly pile up. These include fees for lawyers, appraisers, the court, and even the executor. Sometimes, the executor may choose not to take a fee to be fair to the family members.
Probate can also be a very lengthy process. It requires a thorough inventory of all the assets and identification of the heirs, with proper notice given to everyone involved. Before beneficiaries can receive their inheritances, any outstanding debts must be settled. All in all, dealing with probate is something most people would rather avoid if they have the chance.
Using A Trust
A person can set up a trust to ensure their assets will not be subject to the probate process. By setting up a revocable living trust a person can ensure items contained therein will not be subject to the probate process. The trust will need to be set up while the person is of sound mind and able to decide for themselves what will go into the trust. The trust can be thought of like a bucket, all assets the individual wants to place in the trust will then be set aside and managed accordingly.
When two people buy a home together, they can make a joint ownership agreement. If they include the “right of survivorship” in this agreement, it means that if one owner passes away, the property automatically goes to the surviving owner without the need for a complicated legal process called probate. It’s a good idea to set up this arrangement when you initially purchase the property because adding someone to the property deed later on can be expensive.
When you open a bank account or buy life insurance, you often get to pick a beneficiary. This is the person who will receive the money or assets when you pass away, and it’s a way to avoid the complicated probate process. In some states, you can also create a special certificate called a “transfer-on-death” for real estate you own. This means that the property will automatically go to someone you choose after you pass away.
But here’s an important tip: Remember to keep your beneficiary choices up to date. Many people forget to update these after big life changes like a divorce or when someone they’ve chosen passes away. If you don’t update your beneficiaries, it can lead to your ex-spouse getting everything or your assets having to go through probate, which can be a long and expensive legal process.
Giving Inheritance Away
Before you pass away, you have the option to intentionally transfer most of your assets to your family members or other chosen beneficiaries. If you no longer own these assets when you die, they won’t be subject to the probate process. It’s worth noting that many assets, especially those valued at $11,000 or less, can be given to someone as a gift without incurring federal tax penalties. You’re allowed to make this kind of gift to a person once every year. By doing this, you can greatly decrease the total value of your assets that have to go through the probate process after your passing.
Avoiding Probate for Smaller Estates
In certain states, it can be easier to avoid probate if the person passing away has only a small estate. To be considered small, the amount of the estate will vary based on where you live.
It can be very beneficial for heirs to avoid the probate process in South Carolina. Between the fees, costs, and stress, the process can be daunting and overwhelming. If you want to learn more about how to avoid probate in South Carolina, reach out to us today!
Looking to learn more? Contact us to see how to avoid probate court in South Carolina!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I avoid probate in South Carolina?
Avoiding probate in South Carolina is advisable due to the associated costs, time delays, and complexities involved in settling an estate through the probate process. It can help your family by reducing expenses and streamlining the inheritance process.
What is a revocable living trust, and how can it help me avoid probate?
A revocable living trust is a legal arrangement in which you place your assets. It allows you to retain control over these assets while designating beneficiaries. Assets within the trust do not go through probate when you pass away, simplifying the transfer process.
How can joint ownership with the “right of survivorship” help avoid probate?
Joint ownership with the “right of survivorship” means that when one owner of a property passes away, their share automatically goes to the surviving owner without probate. This arrangement can save time and legal expenses.
What are beneficiary designations, and how do they help avoid probate?
Beneficiary designations are instructions you provide for assets like bank accounts and life insurance policies, specifying who will receive them upon your passing. This bypasses probate and ensures a smooth transfer to your chosen beneficiaries.
How can I decrease the probate process for assets valued at $11,000 or less?
You can decrease the probate process for smaller assets by intentionally transferring them to your chosen beneficiaries before your passing. Additionally, gifts of assets valued at $11,000 or less can be given annually without incurring federal tax penalties, further simplifying the process.
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