Many people own property with family, such as a vacation home with other siblings. Most people own these properties in their own name, needlessly subjecting themselves to probate at the death of any owner. The perfect solution is something called a Nominee Trust (also often referred to as a Realty Trust). This is a very special trust that allows the beneficiaries not the trustee to be in control of the Trust. The ownership share would be reflected in the Trust. If you own half now, you would still own half of the trust, which would own the house. But, all owners would now enjoy the probate avoidance of a Trust. Better yet, you and your siblings will all share in the cost of the trust, making it a great value. You can even name a beneficiary of your share if you pass.
A Nominee Trust is also the perfect vehicle if you don’t want anyone to know you own the property. A third party could be the trustee so they are on the public record, not you. But again, that trustee has absolutely no control over the property without your direction.
If probate avoidance or privacy is a concern, consider a Nominee/Realty Trust
– Kathryn Bedell, Esq.
What happens to your assets (real estate, bank accounts, etc.) that are in your name alone if you die without a will? Your assets will go to whoever the State of Maine, or whatever State you are a resident when you die, thinks they should. When you die without a will you die intestate, and the laws of intestacy kick in. Sometimes this can lead to disastrous results. For example, you own a home alone but have lived there with a life partner for many years, and you die without a will, your life partner is not a beneficiary under the laws of intestacy. If you have no children that house could go to your parents or your siblings or even your distant cousins, that you may have nothing to do with. The simplest way to ensure that your assets go to the people you want is to execute a will.
-Kathryn Bedell, Esq.
Many people have not looked at the beneficiary designations on their Life Insurance, Retirement or Annuity Accounts for years. With most of these accounts, you were most likely prompted to designate a beneficiary when you first opened the account. People do not realize that any beneficiary designation made on these accounts will override their will, trust, or other estate planning documents executed. Too often, an ex-spouse is inadvertently left as a beneficiary or a later born child is omitted. Taking the extra step to add contingent beneficiaries to retirement accounts can even result in dramatic tax savings for your loved ones. A few minutes of work on your end can eliminate grief and consternation for your heirs after you pass.
So please, review all those designations to ensure they reflect your current wishes.
-Kathryn Bedell, Esq.