SIGMT Winter 2023

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Page 99 of 107

100 | SIGNATURE MONTANA TEXT BY RANDY TARUM BACK TO BUSINESS Most of us are familiar with the Benjamin Franklin quote, "…in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Death is inevitable, yet many don't take the necessary steps to prepare for it. According to numerous studies, over 50 percent of people do not have a will and have made no preparations for the inevitable. Why is it important to be prepared? When we die, ownership of our property (everything that we own) has to be transferred to a new owner. Being prepared will help facilitate this transfer and ensure your property or "estate" is distributed according to your wishes. Being prepared typically includes having a will that names your Personal Representative and specifically identifies how you want everything you own to be distributed aer you die. e distribution of your property usually involves probate. What is probate? Simply put, probate is the legal process of distributing your property aer you die. Most probates are informal, where your Personal Representative is appointed by the court to identify and value assets of your estate and pay claims, expenses, and taxes. e Personal Representative will then distribute the estate as per the instructions in your will, or in the absence of a will, according to Montana law. Probate is usually required when a person dies and is the sole owner of real property or has individual investments or banking accounts. In most instances, the law requires a Personal Representative to make the legal transfer of that property. e legal transfer by a Personal Representative can be required whether there is a will or not. Can probate be avoided? Common ways to avoid probate include joint ownership, beneficiary/ death transfer designations, gis, and trusts. Joint ownership with rights of survivorship: When you own real property jointly with rights of survivorship, ownership of the property automatically transfers to the other upon the death of one of the joint owners. is type of transfer does not require probate. It is common for husbands and wives to own their house as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. Joint owners on bank accounts and vehicle titles can also avoid probate. With property titled jointly, the surviving spouse (or other joint owner) automatically becomes the sole owner of the property upon the death of the other owner. Creating a joint tenancy is an immediate legal transfer of an ownership interest in your real property and money in your accounts. You should carefully consider the pros and cons of these transfers aer consultation with an aorney. Pay on death accounts You do not have to give a person access or ownership of a financial account to ensure the money goes to that person when you die. Using a pay-on-death designation, you can name a beneficiary or beneficiaries who will receive the balance in your account upon death. You can designate beneficiaries for most financial and retirement accounts by using forms provided by the financial institution. A pay-on-death designation creates a transfer that happens when you die, so the beneficiary does not have access to your accounts when you are alive. Transfer on death registrations Transfer on death registrations operate to transfer securities, mutual funds, and brokerage accounts. ese designations are typically made using the forms provided by the institution. A transfer on death designation allows for the direct transfer to the beneficiary upon the owner's death. PROBATE What is it and Should You Try to Avoid it?

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