Probate court proceedings can be a painful, costly process for all involved. Probate courts handle the transference of a deceased person’s assets to the inheritors. Families and friends must sit through long sessions of legal discussions and confusion surrounding the intent of wills. Various states have developed alternatives to probate court proceedings in which individuals can avoid probate altogether. Tanko Law, your local Montana Probate Attorney, has compiled a list of ways to circumvent probate in Montana.
Create a Living Trust
As a Montana resident, you can create a living trust for nearly every asset you own, allowing your loved ones to avoid probate. First, you need to have a legal professional design a trust document on your behalf. In the document, you need to name a successor trustee to take over the trust upon your death. As a final step, you need to name yourself as a trustee on your own trust. This will allow you to control your own living trust while you’re still alive. Once you pass, the successor trustee will take control of the trust and the beneficiaries of the trust can receive your assets without a probate court being involved. Tanko Law provides a comprehensive Trust Estate Plan with each of their Trusts that cover your needs completely, including all necessary health care documents.
Set Yourself Up for Joint Ownership
You can legally make your possessions jointly owned by another individual. To avoid probate, the joint ownership must involve “the right of survivorship,” which means the jointly owned property is entirely transferred to the other involved individual once you die. Paperwork is necessary to prove the property belongs solely to the surviving owner.
In Montana, this form of joint ownership is known as joint tenancy. When an individual dies, property of a joint tenancy agreement passes to the surviving owner. Each tenant in joint tenancy must own an equal share of the property in question. This style of ownership is often convenient for couples who are acquiring vehicles, real estate and bank accounts.
Bank Accounts with Payable-on-Death Designations
For Montana residents, you can turn your normal bank account into one which will avoid probate proceedings. All you need to do is add a “payable-on-death” (POD) designation to your original account. With this setup, you are still in charge of all the assets in your account and the beneficiary cannot access the money. After your passing, however, the successor on the account can access all the money in the account and claim control over it without a court becoming involved.
What about Your Stocks and Bonds?
You can apply a transfer-on-death (TOD) form to your stocks and bonds in Montana. Much like the other scenarios discussed above, TOD registration requires you to name a beneficiary. At the time of your death, the beneficiary will immediately receive all the stocks and bonds which you’ve registered with TOD forms. The inheritor communicates directly with your brokerage company to receive the assets, and no probate court needs to be involved.
Contact Tanko Law Montana, Your Montana Probate Attorney, For Assistance
The issue of inheritance is stressful and oftentimes convoluted. Tanko Law Montana hopes that one of the techniques mentioned above appeals to you in terms of avoiding probate proceedings. For any help you need in setting up plans for your posthumous finances, contact Tanko Law, your trusted Montana Probate Attorney, today.