The probate process is something that you should understand when you are making estate planning decisions. Assets are not immediately distributed to the heirs in many instances. Some asset transfers are subject to the probate process, but some types of asset transfers would not go through the process.
Before we define probate property, let’s look at some asset transfers that would not be subject to the probate process.
If you were to use a living trust as a vehicle of asset transfer instead of a last will, the trustee that you name in the trust agreement would be able to distribute assets in the trust to the beneficiaries outside of probate.
This is one benefit that you would gain if you use a living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan, but there are others.
You name a beneficiary when you take out a life insurance policy on your life. After you die, the proceeds would be distributed to the beneficiary by the company. The probate process would not enter the picture.
Property Held in Joint Tenancy
There is a legal concept called joint tenancy. It sounds a bit sophisticated, but in reality, it is quite simple. A joint tenant is a co-owner of property. You could add a joint tenant to the title or deed of property that you own.
After your passing, the joint tenant would assume ownership of the entirety of the property, and the transfer would not be subject to the probate process.
When you open an account at a bank or a brokerage, you have the option of adding a beneficiary. This person would not be able to access the funds in the account while you are living, so you do not have to share access immediately.
After you pass away, the beneficiary would assume ownership of the remainder in the account, and the probate court would not be involved.
Transfers Subject to Probate
Property that is in your direct and sole personal possession at the time of your death would be looked upon as probate property. For example, if you use a last will to state your wishes regarding the distribution of your personally held property, it would be admitted to probate after you die.
The heirs would have to wait out this process. Inheritances would not be distributed until the estate was closed by the court.
We have provided some basic information about probate and asset transfers in this blog post. If you would like to discuss your options with a licensed professional, we would be glad to assist you.
Our firm offers free consultations, and you can send us a message through this page to set up an appointment: Hartford CT Estate Planning Attorneys.