A lot of couples that come into my office want to avoid a Louisiana Succession by creating and maintaining a Revocable Living Trust. But what many people don't realize is that some of their assets, such as IRA's and life insurance policies, do not go into a trust if the ultimate goal is to avoid probate. These types of assets are payable to determined beneficiaries, and as long as the beneficiaries are properly designated, a trust does not have to be involved.
There are other types of assets that do not have to be transferred to a Revocable Living Trust and probate can be avoided.
1. Checking and Savings Accounts. If you simply add an adult child to your bank account as having signature authority, then after you die, that child can have immediate access to the account, close the account, and divide the funds between your heirs. All of this can be done without the involvement of the court.
2. Vehicles. If the person you want to ultimately receive ownership of your car provides the Will or a photocopy of the Will to the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles, they will transfer the title after death without court intervention.
3. Personal Effects. Because your personal belongings are not titled, family members usually divide personal effects after the death of a loved one without the involvement of the court.
If your ultimate goal is to set things up so your family doesn't have to participate in the lengthy and costly court probate process, then assets would typically require court involvement must be in a trust. These types of assets include real estate, mineral interests, stock, Certificates of Deposit, interests in limited liability companies, other business interests, and non-IRA investments.
Since many people have a large portion of their estate in retirement accounts, it's fairly easy to avoid probate by retitling the home and other probate assets to your trust.