July 28, 2011
One of the most common goals of people as they grow older and build their assets is to avoid the probate process. Although it is not necessary a horrendous ordeal, it does have drawbacks, which include costs, its public nature, and the unavailability of assets for significant periods of time. Many people consider it preferable to avoid the probate process altogether.
To Probate or not to Probate Your Will
Probate is the court's supervision of the process that transfers the legal title of property from your estate when you die to your beneficiaries. In short, the probate process proves the validity of your will. This counters the erroneous, but widely held belief that if you have a valid will, you will avoid probate. However, not all estates need to go through the probate process.
Any property that passes outside of your will is considered non-probate property. Any property that is held in trust or in joint names is also non-probate property. In addition, property passing by beneficiary designations to anyone other than your estate, such as transfer on death accounts, payable on death accounts, life insurance, annuities, retirement, and pension accounts are non-probate property. If all of your property is non-probate, there is typically no need to go through the probate process. However, ...
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by: Todd C. Ratner
July 28, 2011