What are Non-Probate Assets?

Probate is the legal process after a person’s death that covers financial and legal affairs through a court that validates wills and confirms that a personal representative will agree to accept the job of managing the estate. Assets are held and are not distributed until all other debts of the estate are paid, which can take months or even years if the estate is legally contested. If you are considering going through probate, it is important to understand the difference between probate and non-probate assets.

Non probate assets can be obtained without the need for probate, and they do not pass according to a person’s wishes in a will. Instead, non-probate assets pass according to a document where the owner directed how the assets would pass upon the individual’s death. It is similar to a life insurance policy or a retirement plan. When these policies are created, paperwork has to be completed telling the company holding the asset that when you die, this item is going to be passed to a specific person or persons. If a beneficiary is not designated, the assets will become probate assets and get passed to whoever is listed in the will or the laws of intestate succession if there is no will.

Non probate assets come in different shapes and sizes and different rules can apply to specific types of assets. A few non probate assets can include:

    • Joint tenancy real property
    • Transfer on death deeds
    • Joint bank accounts
    • Retirement plans
    • Life insurance
    • Revocable living trusts

There are additional exemptions to the probate process that are heavily based on the value of the estate. If a probate asset does not exceed $100,000 and it is personal property, then a personal property affidavit may be required, and probate may be avoided entirely. There are also small assets that may be considered non-probate if there is not a personal representative that has been appointed. One way to avoid probate is to place your assets in a living trust which can save your heirs and beneficiaries a lot of time and money.

Non-probate and probate assets require a lot of information to know before making a final decision. That is why having an experienced attorney will help you save time and money so you can discuss how to find an estate plan that works best for you. Here at DAL Law Firm, Attorney Darcel Lobo would be glad to help you. Contact us today at (206) 408-8158, email us at [email protected] or visit our website at dallawfirm.com for more information on all your estate planning needs. We look forward to hearing from you!

Contact us:

19803 1st Avenue S.
Suite 200
Normandy Park, WA 98148

T (206) 408-8158
F (206) 374-2810

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