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Are you aware of your non-probate assets?

The types of assets a person owns can impact how his or her estate closes after death. The manner in which you plan for your family to address these assets can also impact the settling of your estate. If you hope to ensure that your estate administration goes smoothly for the sake of your surviving family, understanding your assets could prove beneficial.

If you create a will, you can address your assets and how you would like those assets distributed after your death. However, you may have non-probate assets, and these items do not need to go through the probate process. If you do not feel certain as to which of your property may count as non-probate assets, you may wish to consider the following examples.

Payable on death

For a variety of assets, you could potentially have payable on death designations. These designations could also go by similar terms such as transfer on death or in trust for designations. With these designations, you would name an individual or individuals to act as beneficiaries for the assets. As a result, the assets would then pass directly to the named beneficiaries rather than having to go through probate.

Joint ownership

In some cases, you may have assets that you jointly own with another person. Commonly, spouses have joint ownership of much of their property, including homes and bank accounts. With these assets, the co-owner would simply take over the entirety of the property due to rights of survivorship. You may also jointly own property with someone other than a spouse, but ownership transfer would work in a similar manner.

Revocable living trust

You may have heard before that creating a trust could help avoid probate proceedings. True, assets in a revocable living trust at the time of your death would not need probate as placing the assets in the trust separated them from the estate. The property would go through distribution as dictated in the terms of the trust.

These examples represent only a few of the possible types of non-probate assets you could potentially have. In order to determine whether you have assets that meet these criteria or other factors that could exempt them from the probate process, you may wish to assess your estate and property closely. It could also prove beneficial to determine the best ways to address your probate and non-probate assets in your estate plan.

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