Probate is the process where a last will and testament is proved in courts and accepted as a valid public document. Unfortunately, following your death (or your loved one’s death), when your will is put into action, you may have to give a portion of your estate to the government to cover the probate fees. Furthermore, the probate process in Illinois can be slow, and in some cases, your heirs may have to wait months, or even years, for them to receive a penny.
As a leading Chicago estate lawyer, attorney James C. Provenza has helped establish and administer many individual’s estates, and he can help you too. Moreover, he can help devise an estate planning strategy unique to your estate, helping you avoid probate and getting your heirs their portion of the estate quickly and in a cost-effective manner. Although a last will and testament is one of the strongest estate planning tools you have, we’ve listed a couple of alternatives to help you avoid probate in Illinois.
In the meantime, you can call James C. Provenza & Associates to speak with attorney Provenza about your estate. Consultations are always free, so call today at (847) 729-3939.
Revocable Living Trusts
The revocable living trust is, in general, a common way that many people avoid probate in courts. For this estate planning tool, you can put your valuable property in a trust. Following your death, the property and assets within the trust are not part of your estate, as the trustee is technically the owner of the property. The trustee can easily transfer the trust property to friends and family, or to any other beneficiaries of the property, without needing to go through probate. To make sure that your property is given to the correct individuals, you can specify the beneficiaries in the trust document.
A pay-on-death account and registration is another way that you can avoid probate when creating your will. In short, with such an account, you can convert your bank accounts and retirement accounts into payable-on-death accounts. With these accounts, similar to the living trust, you’ll fill out a form that clearly states your beneficiaries, and when you die, the money or other assets are immediately transferred to the beneficiary without going through probate. In Illinois, you can also register stocks and bonds with a transfer-on-death registration, and you can also establish a beneficiary for vehicles registered in the state. Lastly, with a transfer-on-death deed, also known as a Transfer on Death Instrument in Illinois, you can transfer real estate upon your death.
Joint Ownership of Property
If you are the sole owner of a piece of property, and you name a beneficiary in your will, then that piece of property will have to go through probate. However, an alternative option is to acquire joint ownership of a piece of property. Keep in mind that avoiding probate via joint ownership is suitable in most cases, but perhaps not all. Nonetheless, with this option, the property is transferred to the other joint owner upon your death. Some ways that joint ownership can avoid probate include:
- Joint tenancy
- Tenancy by the entirety
If you want to avoid probate, you can also give others your property and assets while you’re still alive. The reasoning for this is simple: if you don’t actually own the property when you die, then the property doesn’t go through probate.
Avoid Probate By Calling Estate Attorney Provenza
Despite the costs and waiting periods associated with the probate process, the last will and testament is still an essential estate planning tool that you shouldn’t overlook. Even though some of these techniques can help you avoid probate, it is always important to remember that these estate planning tools also have their disadvantages. For this reason, you should speak with an experienced and knowledgeable Chicago estate planning attorney when making your estate plan. With the help of James C. Provenza, we will examine the entirety of your estate and develop a plan that optimizes and maximizes benefit. For a free consultation with our law firm, call us today at (847) 729-3939.