You might want to consider naming someone as a payable-on-death (POD) beneficiary for your bank accounts, savings, bonds, or vehicles. This will ensure your assets do not go through probate after you pass away. If you have named a payable-on-death beneficiary but you need to name someone new, just get a form from your employer or the account custodian, fill it out and then just submit it.
Look Into A Living Trust:
If you don't know, the procedures in probate court can be very expensive, can take a good amount of time, and difficult for your beneficiaries to deal with. Your beneficiaries just want to easily transfer property to those who will inherit. You might want to consider creating a revocable living trust. This document will let everything go directly to those who will inherit after your pass away and there will be no need for probate. You should read up on everything possible to avoid probate.
Just like a will, you can revoke or change a living trust any time you want as long as you are mentally competent. If you become incapacitated or you die, the person you chose to be your “successor trustee” will have control of your trust property without court supervision. A successor trustee is very similar to an executor of a will and in many cases, these two roles are handled by the same person.
It does take a little more work and time to create a living trust vs a will. Then again, if probate is easy and inexpensive in your state, you might decide to bypass a living trust. A living trust works really well for most families and will save them a great deal of time and money.
Look Into State And Federal Estate Tax Exemptions:
Most Americans will not need to worry about their families ending up with a huge state or federal estate tax bill. As of late, the federal death tax is quickly going south in the country. It's still worth taking a close look at the current tax laws for peace of mind. If you discover that it's very likely your estate will owe state or federal estate taxes, you should get advice from a tax attorney to find out what your options are. You might want to look into special types of trusts or start a gift-giving plan to reduce the amount your estate might end up owing.
Federal Estate Taxes:
In 2016, someone could have left $5.45 million without owing taxes and this exemption has increased each year due to inflation. Also, married couples can exempt twice that amount. In general, it's estimated that approximately 99.7% of all states will never owe federal tax.
State Estate Taxes:
There are states that will impose a separate state estate tax but most exempt amounts are lower than the federal rate.