After someone passes away, their estate passes through a legal process called probate. This is necessary to settle any debts and help distribute assets of the estate. Any assets not included in a trust are subject to taxation.
Probate is often expensive and takes a long time to complete, so people tend to dislike it. You may reduce the length of the process by contacting an estate planning attorney to guide you through the complicated process and hep you set up ways to avoid it when the time finally comes.
State laws differ on probate processes and exceptions, however, some general information applies.
How to Limit the Amount of Assets that Pass through Probate
Some assets are safe from probate. Inheritors can avoid costly court processes and the assets can be directly distributed in these cases. Some assets that will be probate-free include:
- Pay-outs from insurance policies.
- Any accounts that have designated heirs or beneficiaries will be transferred directly to those named.
- Assets that have designated beneficiaries chosen by the deceased should not be challenged during the probate process.
- Jointly-owned assets like real estate property, bank accounts, or vehicles will likely be handed to the surviving owner.
For specific information about your estate and how probate may affect the distribution of your assets, you should contact an estate planning attorney to discuss your legal options.
Assets that Must Pass through Probate
Some assets cannot avoid probate entirely. There are specific items that must pass through probate and they include:
- Real estate owned solely by the deceased.
- Bank accounts that have not been assigned and heir or beneficiary.
- Anything not put into a will or a trust.
If the deceased did not leave a will or trust, all assets must go through probate. After completion, heirs will be determined. These are usually next of kin such as spouses, children, parents and siblings. The judges are able to decide if there are no designations specified.
For specific advice regarding your estate planning options, you should visit an experienced wills and trusts lawyer Scottsdale, AZ, recommends. You could help your loved ones avoid a long and costly court process by setting up a thorough will and/or trust. Call today for a free consultation and advice on how to begin the process. Your loved ones will feel much more at ease knowing they are satisfying your last wishes.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into probate.