When you sit down to create your estate plan there will likely be a wide variety of objectives that you must consider. Distributing your assets at the time of your death is certainly the primary estate planning objective; however, don’t forget to consider estate liquidity as well if you are leaving behind loved ones who depend on your financial contribution to the family.
Most states must go through the legal process of probate upon the death of the decedent. During the probate process the executor inventories your assets, pays estate bills, and eventually transfers assets to the appropriate beneficiaries.
This process can take months, even years, to complete. In the meantime, assets intended for loved ones may be inaccessible. If your loved ones will be depending on assets to pay the bills, you must be sure that you make assets available immediately following your death. This can be done in many ways, primarily by focusing on assets that are not required to go through probate.
Proceeds from a life insurance policy, for instance, are usually not required to be included in the probate process. By the same token, assets held by an irrevocable living trust are often not required to be included in the probate of your estate. You may also re-title assets to “payable on death” or the proper form of joint title to ensure that title to the asset will pass directly to your spouse or other loved one upon your death.