Dealing with Assets During Probate

Not every kind of asset is going to be handled in the same manner. When you’re going through the probate assets assets of a deceased friend or relative, you might find that there’s a lot to sort out. There could be more to be appraised than originally anticipated.

You may even find that some items don’t even need to go through the probate process. So, here are some tips to help you figure out when you should talk to a probate lawyer.

Probate or Not

A nice thing about the probate process is that it can be avoided. In fact, if the deceased worked with a probate lawyer who knows the ins and outs of estate planning and probate law, they may have tried their hardest to avoid the probate process completely. Actually, if everything was properly set up during the estate planning process, most or all of the assets could dodge the probate process.

Non-probate assets tend to go straight to the beneficiary. These assets don’t even need a probate court to get approved. They can slip right past the court and into the lap of the recipient.

Here’s the catch: You still need to figure out if the assets and which assets need to go through the probate process. First, consider talking with the lawyer who assisted the deceased during the estate planning process before you assume anything.

They probably had a hand in helping everyone avoid going through probate court. If the estate was not planned in conjunction with a lawyer, you should still get all the documents checked by a lawyer to ensure they’re still legal and if anything can avoid probate court. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll find the will to be legally void, leaving the court to figure out what is to be done with the remaining assets.

Three Kinds of Assets

To help you determine whether or not the probate process is necessary, let’s discuss three kinds of assets that go through probate court.

One kind of asset that usually needs to go through probate is shared property. For example, if the deceased shared ownership of a boat with one of their best friends for fishing trips, this will most likely go through the probate process. While the deceased no longer has the ability to own the property, that doesn’t mean that the property automatically transfers. The property was originally intended to be owned by two individuals and now, one of those two is gone. As such, the court needs to figure out what the new ownership will look like.

Another kind of asset that will probably need to go through probate is property that was solely owned by the deceased. Going back to the boat example, say that your best friend is the only one to legally own the boat. You may have helped fix it and used it whenever you went on fishing trips. However, your name is nowhere to be seen on any paperwork. So, as much as you would like to inherit the boat automatically, it may still need to go through probate.

If the ownership of one of the assets is held under a tenancy in common, the property will go through probate. Your beneficiaries are the ones who get to take responsibility for what becomes of this kind of property. Whatever ownership that the property has after you pass falls into their hands. Please note that if you want to be sure that something needs to go through or can avoid probate, consult professional legal assistance to be completely sure,

Assets that Avoid Probate

To put your mind at ease, let’s discuss assets that can dodge the probate process completely. Not even the will can require the following assets to go through the probate process. They are probate immune.

Going back to property that’s shared, if there are survivorship rights involved, the probate process shouldn’t affect those assets. That means if the fishing boat you and a friend owned had survivorship rights, whoever outlives the other automatically obtains sole ownership.

Note, however, that there’s more than one kind of survivor right. In fact, there are three kinds of survivorship rights. One involves the shared owners being joint tenants with survivorship rights, the second is exclusively for married couples and marks the property as community property, and the third, which is sometimes specifically for married couples in certain states, classifies the owners as tenants by the entirety.

Dealing with the Assets

Hopefully, now you have a better grasp on what kind of property can and might not avoid the probate process. If you think that you might need help going through the probate process or checking out the assets, get in touch with the law firm of Flanders Law Firm LLC by dialing 612-424-0398.

Set up a free consultation to help you see what the next steps look like and work towards handling all of the assets. A probate lawyer should be ready to assist you.


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