Recently, you learned your parents choose you to handle their estate. While learning more about the role, you discover that not all assets must go through probate.
AgingCare breaks down which assets go through probate. Improve your knowledge of estate planning so you know how to better prepare for your role.
An example of assets that must usually go through probate includes those with the deceased’s name on the title when the person dies, such as a savings account or real estate property. The only authority with the power to change titles according to the decedent’s desires is the probate court. Co-owned assets may also qualify if they do not include the right of survivorship.
If your parents have life insurance policies and annuity agreements with a non-estate beneficiary, they likely do not require probate. 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement and brokerage accounts that adhere to operation of law or contract also avoid probate. How financial accounts go directly to named beneficiaries without passing through probate is with transfer on death or payable on death provisions. The surviving owner of a joint account becomes the account’s new owner without needing a probate court’s say-so.
Your parents may title buildings and land to pass to an heir without worrying about the real estate going through probate. If your loved ones have a stake in real estate or another asset, they may avoid probate with a property ownership called joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.
Understand how to help your parents and yourself to peace of mind. Probate does not have to be a headache if you know what to expect.