When a person dies, their will must be processed by probate court. Probate is a legal process that is used to settle an estate before distributing the deceased’s assets. The assets you leave out of the trust are subject to taxes.
Probate can be expensive and timely, but it is an important step in getting the assets to the designated beneficiaries. Having an attorney by your side during this complex process is invaluable. Since probate regulations vary by state and are complicated anyway, here are some bits to remember about probate.
Can I avoid probate processes?
Some assets don’t have to get processed through probate. An heir can then avoid the costly fees and the assets are transferred immediately. Assets that can circumvent probate include:
- Insurance policy payouts, usually life insurance policies.
- Accounts that list a beneficiary can be transferred without a probate court’s approval.
- Assets where a beneficiary is named.
- Jointly-owned assets such as cars, property, or bank accounts owned by the deceased and their spouse, partner or close relative. If you are married, the assets will likely go to your surviving spouse.
These are general guidelines and you should consult an attorney if you wish to avoid probate.
Which assets must endure probate?
You may not be able to escape probate entirely. Some assets must go through probate court. These assets include:
- Real estate owned solely by the deceased.
- Any and all accounts that do not have an assigned beneficiary at time of death.
- Personal property solely owned by the deceased an anything excluded from the will or trust.
If no will or trust exists, then all assets have to go through the probate process. Once the often timely process is finished, heirs will be determined by the court.
The advice of an experienced estate planning attorney will help ease the probate process on your family and may help them avoid it altogether. This can be an emotionally challenging process that may be hard on your grieving loved ones, so it is best to prepare ahead of time and ensure a proper plan for your estate is in place.
It can be as simple as picking up the phone to save your family from further turmoil. By contacting an estate planning attorney today such as the Scottsdale AZ Probate Lawyer, you can plan effectively for the future and help your loved ones process their grief without the added stress of a probate court process!
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into probate.