Possible reasons to avoid probate in New York
In New York, if a decedent leaves behind a property worth up to $30,000 and this property is in the name of the decedent alone without any beneficiary designation, this property is bound to undergo probate proceedings. Probate proceedings could take some time before they are completed and this will make inheritance of the decedent’s estate delayed.
There are persons who own properties in different places which are subject to probate proceedings after they pass on. Probate proceeding for each of these properties attracts cost, so people will likely desire to avoid probate for their properties. It is a good thing that there is a way around getting your properties go through probate proceedings in New York.
In New York there are several available options for you to choose from in other to avoid probate. These choices could depend on various factors such as the type of property, New York’s law regulating your preferred option, the option suitable for you.
Available options to avoid probate in New York
- Transfer-on-Death Registration for Securities: if you have stocks and bonds, in New York you are allowed to register a TOD. In this case, at your death the beneficiary will be the owner of your brokerage account. He deals directly with the brokerage firm and there will be no need for probate thereby saving time and cost.
- Joint ownership: A property jointly owned with the right of survivorship means if one of the owners dies the property is automatically transferred to the surviving partner. This does not involve probate. In New York two types of joint ownership exist.
- Tenancy by the entirety: In New York, this type of ownership is allowed only for couples and unlike joint tenancy were different properties can be jointly owned, here the only type of property that can be jointly owned is a real estate.
- Joint tenancy: in New York, each partner is called a joint tenant and they must have equal share of the property. If a joint tenant dies, the property is automatically transferred to the other joint tenant. In New York under joint tenancy, any asset can be owned together e.g. bank accounts, vehicle etc.
- Living trust: it is possible in New York to make a living trust to avoid probate for any property at all; it could be real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, etc.
Steps in creating a living trust
- Creating a trust document – A trust document is similar to a will. Here you will name the person that will take over after your death. The person is called successor trustee
- Make yourself trustee of the trust- This is very important. It means that you will transfer ownership of your property to yourself.
After these above steps are completed, the property will be under the control of the trust. At your death, your named successor trustee can transfer the property to the beneficiaries and this will not need proceedings of a probate court
- Payable-on-Death: This is available only for Bank Accounts. You can decide to avoid probate for the money in your account by adding a “payable-on-death” (POD) designation to bank accounts. This could be a savings account. The good thing about this method of avoiding probate in New York is that you are still in total control of your account. You could decide to spend all the money, it’s totally up to you your POD beneficiary has no claim to the money while you are still alive. At your death, the beneficiary can claim ownership to the money and can access the money directly from the bank without probate court proceedings.
Get help from an estate planning attorney near you
Whichever option is suitable or available to you, you still need to ensure you get your strategy planned out right. To do this, it’s advisable to work with a knowledgeable legal professional. We can provide you with such services so, go ahead and contact us if you are in search of an estate planning attorney near you in New York.