One of the most important issues you will face as you begin to work on estate planning is the role of probate assets and non probate assets. In this article, an experienced Indianapolis estate planning attorney distinguishes between the two and provides valuable information.
What Probate Is
When a person dies, whether or not they have left a will, the court must direct the disposition of the goods, property, and other assets left behind. This procedure is called probate, and it encompasses your will, your choice of executor, your wishes as to which of your heirs will inherit which assets, the settlement of any remaining debts and taxes, and the like. Whether items are considered probate assets or non probate assets depends upon whether the court disposes of it to the decedent’s heirs or it goes to them without the court’s involvement. Given the time and money involved in this process, you may wish to consider structuring your estate such that probate court is not involved.
These are assets that you own in your own right and that are subject to the probate process. They may be:
- Land or real estate that is in your name.
- Land or real estate, the ownership of which you share with someone else through a tenancy in common.
- Liquid assets such as savings, checking or other bank accounts that are in your name.
- Ownership interests in a corporation, LLC or partnership.
- Vehicles, furnishings for your home, jewellery, or other personal items.
- Brokerage accounts, life insurance policies, or other accounts that show you or your estate as the beneficiary thereof.
Non Probate Assets
The assets listed below are not subject to probate court:
- Any real estate or property in which you are a joint tenant.
- Any real estate or property that you and your spouse own as a single entity, including any financials such as bank or brokerage accounts that are held by you and your spouse together with right of survivorship, and insurance policies on which you are not the beneficiary.
- IRAs or other retirement accounts.
Why This Distinction Is Important
As you address the manner in which you wish your estate to be settled, the question of probate vs. non probate becomes important due to the relative levels of control exerted by your will and by the court. You should ensure that any property or assets you own jointly with your spouse will be distributed according to your wishes and that the beneficiaries are correct. The dispersal of non probate property is not dictated according to your will, so review these details carefully with your estate planning attorney so that your wishes are honored.
Contact Your Indianapolis Estate Planning Attorney Today
Estate planning can be complex. So that you can look to the future with confidence and peace of mind, engage the services of a skilled Indianapolis estate planning attorney by calling Barnes Cadwell, an association of lawyers and not a partnership at (317) 804-5058 today.