Estate Lawyer Luzerne County, PA
A Luzerne County, PA estate lawyer knows that one of the most frustrating parts of estate planning is the probate process. One of the goals that the legal team at Hoegen & Associates, P.C. sets when working with clients is doing all we can to help prevent the need for estates to have to go through probate. The probate process can have a significant impact on an estate’s overall value, as well as end up altering the way the decedent wanted the estate to be distributed.
There are many tools an estate lawyer can use. One of these tools is a transfer on death (TOD) deed and/or accounts. The following is a brief overview of TODs and when they can be used.
Transfer on Death Tools
A transfer on death deed allows real estate property a person owns to automatically be transferred to their beneficiaries upon their death, without the need for the property or properties to be included in the estate’s probate process.
A Luzerne County estate lawyer can also draft up transfer on death accounts for any liquid assets the client owns. These work the same way, with those liquid assets distributed immediately upon the client’s death to their chosen beneficiaries, again avoiding the probate process.
Validity of Transfer on Death Documents
There are requirements that must be met in order for TOD documents to be deemed legally valid. The person must be of sound mind and not under any duress when they sign the documents. The documents must also be prepared by the owner or an attorney – not by the beneficiary. These documents also do not replace the need for a will. Your estate lawyer can assist with both.
There are also some considerations that clients should speak to their lawyers about, especially when the property is jointly owned. In most cases, the transfer of death document does not need to be signed by all owners of the property, however, it also does not remove joint tenancy if the other owner had not signed.
When dealing with TOD deeds, all legal deed requirements must be met, stating that the property is transferred upon the owner’s death. The document must also be recorded with the appropriate municipal agency where the property is located.
Transfer of death documents are not set in stone. If a client changes their mind, they can always revoke the instrument. Your lawyer can explain the details on how this works.
Contact an Estate Lawyer for More Information
Do you have an estate plan in place? If so, when was the last time you updated it? Clients should review their estate plans at least once a year or anytime there have been any major life changes, such as the birth of a child, divorce, etc.
If you would like to learn more about transfer of death documents or any other estate planning tools that are available, call Hoegen & Associates, P.C. to meet with a dedicated Luzerne County estate lawyer.