In many families, a home, is the most valuable asset—making parents eager to pass it on to the next generation. There are different options for doing so, depending on the circumstances. Thoughtful estate planning can ensure the outcomes a family seeks.
Estate Planning Is For Everyone
Simply put, estate planning means organizing how we will pass our assets forward to loved ones when we die. Most families can benefit from estate planning—not just the wealthy. Even when assets are modest, they can prove to be life-changing for the next generation. Plus, putting an estate plan in place and communicating about it while we have the ability to do is truly a gift—ultimately protecting our loved ones from excess duress in a time of grief.
Homes, for many families, are the most important asset—both financially and emotionally—to consider carefully during the estate planning process. Tucker Allen outlines four options for ensuring a home stays in the family:
- A will. This legal document allows you to specify whom you want to inherit your assets. All assets included in a will go through probate, which is a court-supervised process for ensuring that the transfer of assets to your beneficiaries is in compliance with the will’s terms. However, any debts you owe when you die will have to be paid first. If you have multiple beneficiaries, each will inherit an undivided interest in the home. This means that they have to agree on its disposition, which might be difficult if any siblings are estranged.
- A living trust. This allows you to transfer the home to the trust and to manage and benefit from the asset. A living trust avoids probate and the related expenses, but outstanding debts will still need to be paid first. Any potential for conflict between beneficiaries is addressed by appointing a trustee as the decision-maker over the assets.
- Joint ownership. Owning property jointly with another individual can mean the property will pass to that other owner upon your death. However, owning property jointly with people other than your spouse can create issues and should be considered carefully before you purchase the property.
- Transfer on death. Often you can name a beneficiary or beneficiaries who are to receive your property upon your passing. This option allows you to continue holding the property in your own name, and avoid probate.
Understanding Estate Bonds
During the estate planning process, you will likely work with your lawyer to create a will, a trust—or both. In doing so, you will designate a representative (also referred to as an executor or trustee depending on location and circumstances) to administer your affairs. Be sure to share as much as you can about your ultimate intentions and the practical information and documents that will be needed to carry out your plans. Although sometimes waived in families, note that estate bonds can help inspire the confidence of everyone involved. Sometimes they are even required during the probate process.
An estate bond is a type of fiduciary bond: it guarantees the beneficiaries that the estate will be administered in accordance with state law. Estate bonds are alternatively referred to as an executor, personal representative, or probate bonds. It is quick and easy to obtain any of these bonds from a leading, national provider: Colonial Surety Company. Just get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond anytime, from anywhere. Obtain Estate Bond Here.
Hesitant About Creating An Estate Plan?
Maybe you don’t think you have enough assets to warrant planning? Think about this: in many ways, the less we have, the more important it is to plan-fully pass them forward. Cassady Law Offices offers this guidance: Estate planning is no longer an option only for the wealthy; people in all walks of life are looking to make the most of their assets and their choices.
Sometimes worries about family conflicts hold us back from putting plans in place too. Legal experts suggest writing a “letter of intent” to accompany your will or trust. As Frank and Kraft explain:
This is a document that allows you to provide relevant information to beneficiaries that is not included elsewhere in your plan. Although it is not a legally binding document, it can provide you with the ability to explain decisions you made elsewhere in your estate plan. In essence, this lets you explain things after the fact instead of while you are here which can help prevent discord or litigation.
As you consider how to best organize your affairs with your family, keep in mind that fiduciary bonds, such as estate bonds, are often a helpful way to protect the interests of your beneficiaries. Colonial Surety makes it easy and efficient to secure estate—and all types of fiduciary bonds. Learn more about estate bonds here.
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