Probate is a legal proceeding initiated after a property owner’s death that ensures and validates the legitimacy of his or her estate. Probate law is the set of regulations and rules that govern the process, and its intricacies are difficult for the average person to understand. One of the most frequent areas for confusion is what must be included in the probate process and what can be excluded. More information on assets and probate is provided in the sections below.
Assets in Probate
Generally speaking, probate laws recognize individually owned assets as needing to go through the process. These include financial accounts in the person’s name, as well as properties and physical assets owned solely by a decedent. In many instances, personal items fall into this category as well. Examples include vehicles, jewelry, fine art, and other things that are the sole property of the person who passed away.
Assets Outside of Probate
Probate laws become more complicated when non-probate assets enter the picture. Essentially, all items that are mutually owned and those involving contracts fall under the non-probate category. This may include joint retirement accounts and jointly-owned property. These assets are typically contract-based. For instance, a joint retirement account usually comes with considerations as to how the assets will be distributed upon the holder’s death.
How Probate Lawyers Can Help
Probate attorneys are legal professionals who work in the field of trusts and wills. They represent a person’s estate throughout the process and provide legal advice and advocacy at every step. In the case of non-probate personal assets, they can help a client ensure a smooth transition of inheritance and ownership through a living trust that keeps things out of probate.