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When planning your estate it is important to understand the difference between probate and non-probate assets.
Probate is the process through which a court determines how to distribute your property after you die. Some assets are distributed to heirs by the court (probate assets), and some assets bypass the court process and go directly to your beneficiaries (non-probate assets).
The probate process includes filing a will and appointing an executor or administrator, collecting assets, paying bills, filing taxes, distributing property to heirs, and filing a final account. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, which is why some people try to avoid probate by having only non-probate assets.
Probate assets are any assets that are owned solely by the decedent. This can include the following:
Non-probate assets can include the following:
When planning your estate, you need to take into account whether property is probate property or non-probate property. Your will does not control the distribution of non-probate property. Check the ownership of your property and your accounts to make sure jointly owned property will be distributed the way you want it to. It is also important to review your beneficiary designations.
Contact a qualified attorney in your area to determine whether your property is being distributed the way that you want it to be done.
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