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Four Strategies for Avoiding Probate in Cumberland County

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Mar 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

At some point in your life, you may have heard about someone's estate being tied up in probate. It may have included awful stories involving relatives fighting over money or property to the point where family bonds were forever broken. The reality is that probate isn't always a grueling and emotional process. In fact, a lot of the process boils down to paperwork, signatures, deadlines, and months, or sometimes years, of waiting. However, it's still a process that most people would prefer to avoid because it can be expensive and time-consuming. Attorneys handling probate in Crossville often advise the following options to help people in our area avoid the process altogether to save time, money, and aggravation.

Create a Trust

Assets held in a trust do not have to through the process of probate in Cumberland County. Instead, whoever you choose to manage your trust when you pass away will be able to distribute the assets in the trust privately and without being at the mercy of the probate court. Creating a trust is really the “gold standard” option for avoiding probate, but it's important to make sure that your assets are properly titled in the name of the trust.  If not, they will go through the probate process as though the trust did not exist in the first place.

Joint Ownership

If your estate plan includes property, having a co-owner can help avoid having the asset tied up in probate. As long as it's properly documented, ownership of the property would go to the surviving co-owner if the other co-owner dies. In Tennessee, you can have co-ownership of a property with your spouse that includes the right of survivorship. Under tenancy by the entirety, ownership of the property would go to the surviving spouse when one spouse dies. For individuals who are not married, joint tenancy with right of survivorship can help you avoid probate. However, we do advise serious caution when considering this option with close friends, siblings, or other relatives.

Gifts

In some situations, transferring the ownership of your property while you're still alive will help your loved ones avoid probate after you're gone. Giving away your property keeps it from being subjected to probate because it would no longer be considered your property. Just be sure to check with your estate planning attorney to determine whether or not the property would be subject to a gift tax or if gifting could have repercussions when it comes to applying for certain benefits with “look-back periods” like Medicaid (TennCare) or Veteran's Aid and Attendance.

Pay-on-Death Accounts

When it comes to retirement accounts and bank accounts, avoiding probate in Crossville, Tennessee can be done by converting them to payable-on-death accounts. This process is often as simple as filling out a form and choosing a beneficiary. Upon your death, these accounts would then be transferred to your named beneficiaries without having to go through probate. In some states, you also have this same option for vehicles and real estate properties.  Unfortunately, neither of those options are available in Tennessee (yet).

If you're concerned about your loved ones having to deal with the process of going through probate, we can review your assets and your property ownership then advise you on your best options for each. If you'd like guidance in getting started, contact our Crossville, Tennessee estate planning law firm at 931-250-8585 to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...

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