3rd Oct 2013

Estate planning is an essential part of ensuring that your family is looked after once you have passed away. Many people do not think about the importance of estate planning in Orange County, but having everything in place when it comes to assets and financial affairs can save your family a huge headache.

If you do not have estate plan in place, you should consider meeting with a lawyer who can summarize your assets and help you create a suitable will. If your assets do not add up to more than $150,000.00, your estate will not need to be probated and this may be able to be dealt with via a simple will.

There are several steps that can be taken with estate planning in Orange County that can help you avoid probate fees. You need to make certain that your larger assets, such as your home or other properties are owned in joint tenancy. This means that when you pass away your property will simply transfer to the joint tenant without any probate fees being payable.

In some cases, the size of your estate may need to be shrunk in order to stay under the $150,000.00 limit.  Estate planning will ensure that your assets are not subject to probate fees that can be quite high, depending upon the value of the estate. For example, on a $500,000.00 estate, the statutory probate fee would be $13,000.00.  Certain assets can be excluded from the value of your estate including those that are in joint names, trust assets, life insurance (unless it is payable to the estate), death benefits, pay from armed forces service, 401K accounts, pension accounts, accounts with a named beneficiary and registered vehicles.

Assets owned through a living trust are not probated and spouses generally can apply to have assets transferred to them if their spouse passes away without a will. Tompkins law cautions estate planners that not having a probate plan in place means that your estate is public record. Once you have applied for probate your family’s private financial information will be forever public.

Estate planning in Orange County is relatively painless and can go a long way so that your family won’t have to pay any probate fees on your estate. You would be surprised how much money you can save when you plan ahead and transfer assets in advance to certain family members, ensuring that they have the benefit of those items without having to pay exorbitant probate fees.

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