Is it a good idea to have most or all of your assets in the names of you and your children, transfer on death to the children? Transfer-on-death is appealing, since it avoids probate when you die. However, that method of transferring assets has a significant drawback: if all of the assets transfer immediately to the heirs, where will the money come from to pay final expenses (unpaid utilities, medical bills, funeral and burial, etc.)? It is very difficult to get back money from heirs who have received it, often leaving the person in charge of your estate in a very difficult position. A better approach would be a Revocable Living Trust, which also avoids probate but releases nothing to the heirs until those expenses have been paid. This should be discussed with your estate planning attorney.
-Attorney Jack N. Alpern
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