The process of estate planning is not only about managing your property and assets. A big part of estate planning includes preparing for worst-case scenarios by creating plans to avoid unnecessary costs or losses and to protect yourself or your loved ones. The right estate planning can help you maximize your legacy and take advantage of best-case scenarios. Making sure that you avoid probate is a good place to start.
For many, the prospect of probate — the legal process of recognizing a will and appointing an executor to administer the estate — can cause anxiety as court proceedings can be time-consuming, expensive, and confusing. For most, finding a way to avoid probate is one of the top priorities.
Probate rules can differ from state to state. If you live in Idaho, consider hiring a law firm, such as Evergreen Elder Law, to help you avoid probate and navigate the legal process. If you are concerned about your estate planning, we are here to help you.
In Idaho, a probate proceeding is necessary after you pass away if your estate includes any assets that exceed $100,000. Probate is also required for any real property, even if the value is less than $100,000.
Before deciding to spend down or give away assets, speak with a qualified estate planning attorney for guidance about the risks. Evergreen Elder Law can offer other ways to avoid probate that might be right for your situation.
Trusts Can Avoid Probate
A trust is an effective tool to avoid probate in Idaho. A trust can hold virtually any asset, including real property, bank accounts, and vehicles. A valid trust will transfer ownership of your property to yourself as the trustee. After you pass away, the successor trustee will be able to transfer the asset of your trust to the beneficiaries while avoiding probate.
This estate planning strategy is also known as a living trust. There are several advantages to creating a living trust:
- You retain control of the property within the trust
- You and your spouse can include property you own jointly and separately within the trust
- You can make changes regarding who will inherit the trust
- You can revoke the trust
Note: You will need to appoint a successor trustee, who will be responsible for managing of the assets in the trust if you are unavailable to. You will also need to keep track of paperwork, such as any income taxes owed.
A living trust is only one of many types of trust arrangements that are valid under Idaho law. Set up a consultation with Evergreen Elder Law to learn more about what type of trust is best for you.
Own Property Jointly
When two people own property together and have established a “joint tenancy with rights of survivorship,” they each own an equal share in the asset. Jointly owned property will be transferred to the surviving owner without probate. Couples can have joint ownership even if they are not legally married. In fact, you can establish joint tenancy with anyone, even if they are not related to you.
Joint ownership can include assets such as:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Brokerage accounts
- Other valuable possessions
Under Idaho law, any property or assets that come into the possession of a married couple during their time together are presumed to be community property; the exception to this is separate property, which a spouse owned before the marriage. Joint tenancy can be used to ensure that community property and separate property are owned by both parties, with ownership of both going to the surviving spouse.
If you are interested in this option, make sure that joint tenancy is clearly defined for all assets. For instance, you can include both names on bank and brokerage accounts and on the titles for shared property and vehicles. The surviving owner may need to file an affidavit with a copy of the death certificate to complete the transfer.
Get Help From an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney
Planning your estate can feel daunting. Consider speaking with an experienced elder law firm when getting started with estate planning to take care of your loved ones after you pass. Having a solid estate plan in place will not only guarantee that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, but will do so in a cost-effective and timely manner.
With an established history of helping people create customized estate plans, Evergreen Elder Law offers you the resources of a highly reputable, trusted estate planning law firm that is dedicated to working with you to meet your specific and individual needs. Our experienced attorneys understand the importance of planning for the future and can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan. Call us at (208)770-0859 or request a free consultation on our website to discuss your options.