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Estate Planning Without a Will or Trust

Our business is estate planning, and we proudly tell our clients that estate planning is our passion. We love what we do and we love working with our clients to make sure that our clients’ estates pass to whom they want, when they want, and how they want.

In most instances, a Living Trust is the best vehicle to accomplish all the goals of estate planning. Sometimes a Last Will can also accomplish the goals of the client, and thus, the client decides to not create a trust. Either way, our job as estate planning attorneys is to determine what the client wants to do and then advise a plan that best matches the client’s intent.

But what about those instances when neither a trust nor a Will is the best route to go? Are there other alternatives? Yes, and I will briefly highlight a few of them.

  • Beneficiary Designations – If an asset does not belong to a trust and it also does not name specific beneficiaries, then the account may be subject to probate upon the death of the asset’s owner. This means that a court will have to decide who is in charge of distributing the asset(s) and who will ultimately receive the asset(s). So the quick fix here is to list one or more beneficiaries. If a beneficiary is listed, this asset will transfer to the beneficiary without going through probate, once the asset owner passes. This can apply to bank accounts, life insurance policies, and/or retirement plans.
  • Beneficiary Deed – If you own property in your name alone, this also could trigger a probate upon your death. One way to solve this is to create and record a Beneficiary Deed. This is a special deed that outlines who you want to receive the property upon your passing. It likewise avoids probate.
  • How Title is Held – Finally, another way that probate can be avoided is by holding title to property in a specific way. By acquiring property as Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship or Community Property With Right of Survivorship (if you are married), the property will pass entirely to the other owner (or spouse) when one of the owners dies.

There is no possible way for me to explain in this short blog all the pros and cons of each technique I’ve mentioned. While each is a beneficial tool that can be used, it may not be the tool that should be chosen first. There are downsides to each of the methods I’ve discussed. Only after a careful evaluation of your specific circumstances with a qualified estate planning attorney should a decision be made. Please call us today if you’d like us to review your unique situation with you to determine the best way to administer your estate.

MH_iphone_splashWhy Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.


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