When you pass away your property and possessions may go through a process known in New Jersey as probate. This means that your assets are settled and distributed in compliance with the terms of your will or in terms with the state’s discretion if you do not have a will.
There are certain assets that are exempted from probate and these refer to things that are jointly owned by you or your spouse such as retirement benefits, life insurance proceeds, jointly owned property or bank accounts. Most individuals are under the impression that having a will is enough to avoid probate but this is not actually the case.
The following five steps may be critical for helping you avoid the probate process in New Jersey. Speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney in New Jersey can help you determine which of these is most applicable to your situation.
- Put together a revocable living trust
- Convert your personal accounts and IRAs to pay-on-death accounts
- Establish instances of joint ownership such as tenancy by the entirety or joint tenancy
- Give your property away
- Use provisions and small estate laws to your advantage
Speaking with a knowledgeable New Jersey estate planning attorney can help you determine the steps that you should take to protect your estate and keep it out of the probate process.