Posted inEstate Planning / Probate

What is Probate and How To Avoid It

Probate is the legal process used by courts to validate a person’s Will and administer their estate. During Probate, an executor or personal representative gathers the decedent’s assets, settles debts, taxes, and final expenses, and distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries listed in the Will.

What to Know About Probate Assets:  Many individuals assume that their Will controls the distribution of all their assets, but this only applies to Probate assets. Non-Probate assets, on the other hand, are not impacted by the terms of the Will.

Non-Probate assets typically fall into three categories:

  • Assets passing by contract:  Essentially assets with designated beneficiaries, like life insurance, retirement plans, IRAs, and annuities. These assets typically pass directly to the beneficiaries named in the contract outside of Probate.
  • Assets passing by Operation of Law:  Typically, jointly-titled assets fall into this category. The outcome depends on the specific type of joint ownership and requires careful consideration with an Estate Planning attorney.
  • Assets passing by Trust:  Assets transferred to a Revocable Living Trust during the owner’s lifetime bypass Probate as the trustee holds legal title, not the decedent.

Understanding the Role of the Will:  Probate assets are those in which the decedent (prior to his death) was the sole living owner and do not pass through a beneficiary designation or joint ownership.  To ensure a coordinated estate plan, understanding the relationship between asset titling, beneficiary designations, and the Will’s role in the process is crucial.

Avoiding Probate through Comprehensive Estate Planning: Working with an experienced Estate Planning attorney in Omaha, Nebraska, can help you develop a comprehensive plan to avoid Probate for certain assets and streamline the distribution process.  Properly categorizing and organizing your assets will provide peace of mind to your loved ones during difficult times.

Secure Your Legacy Today:  Don’t leave your family’s future to chance.  Contact our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced Estate Planning attorney in Omaha, Nebraska.  Together, we will develop a personalized strategy to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are honored.  Call us at 402.718.8888 to get started.