Some people seek to avoid probate by re-titling assets with another person using a “right of survivorship” designation. Generally, to avoid tax and liability concerns, this method of ownership should only be used in a spousal relationship. A better approach is to add “Payable on Death” (POD) or “Transfer of Death” (TOD) provisions to bank and brokerage accounts to avoid probate on those accounts. You should speak with your banker or financial advisor. This method creates a beneficiary provision similar to insurance policies and retirement accounts. Accounts with valid beneficiary provisions avoid probate. If avoiding probate is a concern, then using a Revocable Living Trust, which we can add to your estate plan, is the best alternative.
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Michael L. Cahill is an attorney and certified public accountant providing estate planning, probate and tax services in the St. Petersburg, Seminole, Largo, Clearwater and Florida gulf beach communities.