Nonprobate Transfers

While a Revocable Living Trust is still the best option for avoiding Probate, other assets may be able to avoid Probate as well.

Non-Probate Transfers allow the property of a Decedent to pass without going through the Probate process. Missouri recognizes two types of Non-Probate Transfer arrangements: Pay-on-Death ("POD") or Transfer-on-Death ("TOD"). These arrangements transfer the Decedent's ownership of certain assets to designated beneficiaries without requiring that those assets go through Probate.

Non-Probate Transfers are allowed for the following types of property: insurance policies, contracts of employment, bonds, mortgages and deeds of trust, promissory notes, stock certificates, account agreements, custodial agreements, deposit agreements, compensation plans, pension plans, IRAs, employee benefit plans, trust agreements, declarations of trust, conveyance, or any other written instrument effective as a contract, gift, conveyance, or trust.

As with most other estate planning arrangements, the owner/transferor may amend or revoke the beneficiary designation at any time. Most Non-Probate Transfers also allow for the benefit to transfer to the descendants of the beneficiary if the beneficiary does not survive the owner/transferor.

Non-Probate Transfers will, however, be subject to estate and gift taxes despite the fact that they are not subject to Probate.

Even if someone arranges their estate to pass through Non-Probate Transfers, he/she still needs a Will, and maybe even a Revocable Living Trust, to ensure that the Residuary Estate (i.e. the assets not transferred by TOD or POD) is protected.

To learn more about how to avoid Probate, talk with Vince Taormina, an estate planning attorney with The Taormina Firm.

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