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Steps that you can take to avoid probate

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2021 | Estate Planning

If you live in South Dakota, property that is held in your estate may be subject to the state’s probate laws. However, there are a variety of strategies that might be available to ensure that your property is exempt from those laws. This may help to ensure that your affairs are settled in a timely manner.

Put your property in a trust

Assets that are properly titled in a trust’s name at the time of your death are considered to be held outside of your estate. Therefore, those items will pass to beneficiaries per your instructions. Furthermore, the details of a trust are kept hidden from the public, which means that you can use it to protect your family’s privacy.

Attach a beneficiary designation to eligible assets

You can generally add a beneficiary designation to a bank, brokerage or retirement account. You can also add one to a life insurance policy, home or car. Taking this step allows an item to go directly to its intended recipient without the need for court approval. It’s important to note that the instructions contained within these forms trump the language in your will. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to review them on a regular basis.

Make gifts throughout your lifetime

Federal law allows you to make monetary gifts of up to $15,000 per year to an unlimited number of people. If you’re making gifts jointly with your spouse, this figure rises to $30,000 per year. It may also be possible to transfer ownership of your home, car or other tangible property before you die to ensure that there is no need for probate.

Avoiding probate may minimize the risk of legal challenges from family members, creditors or others who may have an interest in the outcome of these challenges. An attorney may be able to represent your estate if a lawsuit is filed. Legal counsel may also take steps while you are alive to help ensure that your estate plan is constructed in accordance with state law.