Probate is a legal proceeding that acknowledges a final will and testament and appoints a Personal Advocate to transfer the assets to the intended beneficiaries. The determination of probating a will is established on specific circumstances and varies from state to state. Below, Douglas C. Lauenstein discusses how to avoid probate in Maryland.
Set Up a Living Trust
A revocable living trust is a legal agreement that holds your assets including investments, bank accounts, property, cars, and valuable personal belongings in trust for your benefit during your lifetime and specifies where you want them distributed when you die. After creating a trust document, to ensure ownership stays with you throughout the duration of your life, as the living trust’s trustee, you must transfer ownership of your assets to your trust. Following that process, the property will be under the jurisdiction of the trust’s provisions.
If you own property together with another person and that ownership includes the “right of survivorship,” the surviving owner inherits the property after the other owner has passed away. To transfer the property, no probate will be required, however some paperwork will be required to establish that title to the property is held entirely by the surviving owner. In Maryland, there are two types of joint ownership.
When one of the joint tenants passes away, the property immediately goes to the surviving owners. In Maryland, each joint renter must own an equal portion of the property.
This type of joint ownership is similar to joint tenancy, however it is only permitted in Maryland for married couples.
In Maryland, you can designate bank accounts, including savings accounts, as “payable-on-death” (POD). You still possess ownership over the funds in the account. Your POD recipient does not have access to your accounts, you can spend your money as you please. The beneficiary can claim the funds immediately from the bank after you pass.
Maryland allows you to set up a transfer-on-death account for equities and vehicles. If you designate a beneficiary on a TOD form when you open an account, they will inherit the account after you pass. For your automobile, when you register it with the MVA, you can name a beneficiary. That way when you pass, they will automatically acquire your vehicle.
Avoiding probate in Maryland is simple. Taking these small steps when planning for after your death can help your beneficiaries avoid any issues or problems that may arise when obtaining your assets.