Strategies to avoid, simplify probate

Future-Proof: Navigate Threats, Seize Opportunities at ICNY 2018 | Jan 22-26 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York

DEAR BENNY: My wife and I are rather perplexed with the legal advice we have received with respect to our estate planning. We own a house (fully paid for) as "tenants by the entirety"; all personal effects and household goods are owned in common; we have joint ownership of bank accounts, savings, etc.; my wife has life insurance (I'm the first beneficiary and our son is the secondary beneficiary), and we own one automobile, which is paid in full. The total value of everything we own is well below the current exemption threshold set by federal laws. Based on the above, my wife and I have come to the conclusion that separately executed wills would help ensure that our son will get everything outside of probate. We also believe that creating a trust would only frustrate this goal and is unnecessary given our particular circumstances. --G.M. DEAR G.M.: Owning and titling all of your assets jointly with your wife should avoid probate after the first of you dies, but pr...