Estate planning is vital to ensure that you are adequately cared for during your lifetime. It also guarantees that your family and loved ones are cared for after you’ve passed away. Understanding the difference between probate and non-probate in probate law will give you peace of mind.
The probate process can be complicated without the help of a probate attorney. Estate planning involves creating and filling a will at the time of death, but also choosing a personal representative to handle the distribution of assets to your chosen beneficiaries. The entire process can be handled efficiently and within the legal framework given the assistance of a probate attorney.
Which Assets Are Probate Assets?
Probate assets are those owned solely by you. This means that nobody else’s name is attached to the asset.
Examples of probate assets include real estate, where the title is in your name; personal property such as your vehicle or jewelry, or even bank accounts, and insurance policies that list you or your estate as the beneficiary. Probate assets also include fixed assets such as shares in a partnership, limited liability company, or even a corporation.
The key thing to remember about assets that fall under probate law is that they belong solely to you. Probated assets will also be distributed according to your will, if you have one. This is another reason why it is important to regularly check and update your will.
Which Assets Are Non-Probate Assets?
Non-probate assets are assets that won’t need to undergo the probate process when you pass. Instead, they go directly to your heirs. Non-probate assets include those that designate a specific beneficiary such as an IRA or 401K, annuity, life insurance policy, jointly held property, and bank accounts, and assets held in a trust. While owning non-probate assets can save on the costly and time-consuming process of probate, your assets may end up with people you no longer associate with but who can claim next of kin. This means that instead of the people you ideally would have chosen to receive your belongings, next of kin will receive it instead.
Keep in mind that even if you have a will, anyone in your family (even former spouses or estranged relatives) can lay a claim to the asset if the assets are not in probate. Consequently, your assets won’t be distributed in the manner that you wanted.
Why Estate Planning Matters
In cases where you want certain assets to be given to an individual or shared amongst individuals, it is important to consult with a probate attorney for all of your estate planning needs. Just because you want an asset to go to a specific individual or be shared amongst individuals does not mean that it will happen. By utilizing an estate planning attorney, you can guarantee who will end up the beneficiaries of certain assets.
Remember that your will does not control how non-probate property is dealt with. Make sure to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in probate law. This gives you the opportunity to decide how you want your assets split after your passing. Or, you may prefer to put all of your assets into a trust, overseen by a responsible trustee.
Estate Planning & Probate Legal Services You Can Count On
The probate process can be daunting, especially if you have no experience in estate planning. However, the experienced and compassionate team at Gary I. Handin, P.A. have got you covered. If you have any questions about the probate process or would like to consult with a probate or estate planning attorney, give us a call at 1-877-815-4560.
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