Losing a loved one is tough no matter the circumstances. Ensuring their estate is in order can be almost as difficult. If they left a will, its contents will disburse through probate. Yet, not all your loved one’s assets will go through this process. As you track them, it’s important to understand which assets face probate, which do not and why.
Any property titled solely in your loved one’s name disburses through probate, so long as it does not designate a beneficiary. Yet, your loved may have failed to update their will for years before their passing. In this case, an intended beneficiary may have passed away. If they have, any assets they would have inherited will disburse through probate. Probate also handles any assets left out of your loved one’s estate plan, as well as debts or tax burdens that remained upon their passing. And any vehicles or real estate your loved one owned will likely face probate, too. The exception to this rule is if another person holds equal ownership in them.
Your loved one may have held a bank account, retirement account or insurance policy which they designated to a beneficiary. Instead of going through probate, these assets will transfer to them after your loved one dies. Your loved one might also have owned assets with their spouse or another person. If so, it will likely become the co-owner’s property without going through probate. In most cases, this process happens if your loved one and the co-owner established a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship arrangement. For the asset to pass to its co-owner, its title must indicate this arrangement. If your loved one was married, though, they may have shared property with their spouse through tenancy by the entirety. This arrangement allows for an automatic asset transfer if both their names are on its title.
Knowing the difference between probate and non-probate property can help you ease the disbursement of your loved one’s estate. An attorney can guide you through the process and any challenges that may arise.