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When the main goal is to avoid probate litigation

Illinois estate owners may be able to help their loved ones avoid future problems by transferring assets outside of the probate process. Probate litigation often leads to months or years of entangled courtroom battles, which also often leads to contention between family members. Such problems often cause irreparable rifts where siblings or other relatives stop speaking to each other.

There are several ways to transfer property ahead of time in order to avoid the probate process. A means many estate owners employ is to execute revocable living trusts. Entering joint ownership of property is another probate-avoidance tool.

Upon a property owner’s death, the joint owner automatically takes full possession of the property in question. The legal term for this is “right of ownership.” State laws vary regarding joint property ownership, so it is critical to seek clarification of the laws in the state where the estate plan is being filed.

Less valuable assets can be kept out of probate litigation by simply giving them away before death. Illinois estate owners will no doubt want to check the gift tax threshold before giving assets away because taxes apply to the recipient when values exceed a certain amount. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide guidance and support to anyone with legal questions about such issues. Such consultation can help an estate owner implement the best possible plan to meet his or her immediate needs and ultimate estate planning goals; it can also help keep heirs and beneficiaries on speaking terms when the time comes to administer an estate.

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