Probate: what you should know to plan ahead

You may have heard stories about the complexities and confusions after someone passes away: unforeseen costs, delayed access to funds, legal battles with loved 的. But with proper planning and organization, you can ensure that your estate is well protected and your family easily receives their inheritance, life insurance and 金融资产.

Probate—the legal process for distributing assets after someone dies—can seem overwhelming, or something that should be left to a lawyer to figure out. 一个共同的 misconception is that you can avoid probate if you have a will or small estate. 的 reality, however, is that some of these assets are still subject to probate court.

Probate can be a long legal process. Often people want to avoid probate to help give their family easier access to what they 让他们. 以确定如何 structure your assets for easy distribution, it’s important to understand which assets are subject to probate:


  • Individual assets—such as personal property—that are solely in the 死者姓名

  • Assets held as “tenants in common” – meaning owned property with people other than your spouse.

Assets that are not usually subject to probate:

  • 联合银行, retirement or investment accounts with a named living beneficiary, and accounts that are designated as "payment on death" or "transfer on death"

  • Trust assets in a living trust

  • Annuities with a living beneficiary

  • Life insurance policies with a living beneficiary

Ways You Can 帮助 Avoid Probate

受益人名称: A good way to ensure that your non-probate assets are distributed directly to your loved 的 is by naming 受益人 for each 帐户或政策. For example, a life insurance policy or retirement account with a named beneficiary will skip probate and the cash benefit will be paid directly to 那个人. Be sure to name an individual and not your estate. 资产, through your estate will be subject to probate.

Keep your financial accounts up to date: Anytime you experience a life event, such as a marriage, death or divorce, it’s important to review both the primary and 或有 受益人 on your policies and investments. 这将有助于确保 your assets avoid probate and that your loved 的 quickly receive the assets you 让他们.

与专业人士交谈: Since probate rules vary by state, it’s a good idea to discuss your options with an estate planner or attorney. 这会对你有更好的帮助 understand your options, what to watch out for and how you can avoid probate.

This article is provided by 亚博真人官方版APP下载 for informational purposes only. Neither 亚博真人官方版APP下载, AARP nor its affiliates provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. Please consult your own professional for advice specific to your circumstances.