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The Four Ways Property Is Transferred At Death

As you hang out with family over spring break, or in the upcoming summer holidays, maybe questions about your inheritance or even transferring property after death will come up (sometimes, families are morbid like that).

To that end, you can get ahead of your relatives by learning a little bit about the four ways by which property is transferred at death, courtesy of the researchers at FindLaw.

They are presented here with a little explanation:

1. Will

A will is a written document that takes effect at the death of the person signing it (the "testator"). A state court proceeding ("probate") is instituted and the will is implemented.

2. Living Trust

Living trusts have become quite popular as a method to avoid probate. To avoid probate, the trust must be funded; this means that title to the assets which the grantor owns personally must be actually transferred to the trust -- real property is deeded to the trust; bank accounts are switched to the trust; and stocks, bonds, partnership interests and other holdings are assigned or transferred to the trust.

3 Joint Tenancy

When two or more people own property together they can create a joint tenancy. When a joint tenant dies, his or her interest goes automatically to the survivor; there is no probate. A will or living trust has absolutely no effect on joint tenancy property.

4. Community Property

If your state is a community property state (New York is not), then upon the death of either spouse, the community property is split equally and the surviving spouse receives his or her share of community property outright. The deceased spouse's 50 percent share of community property is part of his or her estate and is subject to his or her will or living trust.

For more information on how to transfer property after death of a family member and where to find attorneys to effectuate such legal devices please see below.

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