When creating an estate plan, you will have several decisions to make. If one of your goals is to help your surviving family members avoid the Illinois probate process, how to do that may take center stage for you. In many cases, how you title your property and how you fill out your beneficiary designations removes the need to probate many of your assets. For other assets, you could use a revocable living trust.
You can jointly own real estate with another party that gives each of you the “right of survivorship,” which means that when one owner dies, the other automatically owns the property entirely. This works well for unmarried owners, such as an unmarried couple, parent and child, or even siblings. Married couples can use this or other legal titling in order to pass property in this manner as well.
When you open certain accounts, you may designate a beneficiary to receive the funds in that account upon your death. This can be done with many retirement accounts, life insurance policies and deposit accounts, along with investment accounts, stocks and bonds. You should be able to obtain the appropriate forms from the institution holding the account or policy.
A revocable living trust allows you to put your assets into it prior to your death. After your death, the assets contained within it do not go through probate. This means that they will be readily available for your surviving family members upon your death.
As you can see, there are numerous options available to you to help your family avoid as much of the Illinois probate process as possible. In order to determine which avenues would be best for your circumstances and family dynamic, it may benefit you to sit down with an estate-planning attorney. He or she could help you craft an estate plan to meet all of your goals, including the desire to get your assets to your loved ones as soon as possible after your death.
Source: FindLaw, “Avoiding the Probate Process“, Accessed on Aug. 12, 2017