The process of probate, or will and probate, is one of the most difficult and lengthy legal processes for a will or a trust to go through after the death of a person. Probate can last anywhere from several months to over one year and incur massive legal probate fees. Some people can avoid the process of probate by creating a living trust, having pay-on-death accounts, giving gifts prior to death and much more. When probate cannot be avoided, there are certain properties than can go to probate and other properties that can never go to probate because of the probate law of your specific area.
Exempt Probate Properties
The types of properties exempt from probate are as follows:
- Real Property: land and buildings
- Personal Property: bank accounts, vehicles, jewelry and much more
- Property Jointly Owned
- Benefits payable to named beneficiaries such as ones from an annuity or a life insurance policy
- IRA’s, 401(k)’s, and Keoghs pass to the beneficiaries without going to probate as well
- Bank accounts setup as pay-on-death pass along outside of probate
- Assets placed into a trust prior to the decedent’s death bypass probate because they belong to the trust
Properties not Exempt from Probate
The property not exempt from probate are any items that are owned by the decedent at the time of his or her death or that is payable to the estate. This includes cars, real estate, bank accounts and any other items not gifted to another person, not protected in a trust, or not sold by the decedent prior to his or her death.
Some states allow certain amounts of property to bypass the process of probate but the amount varies from state to state. For instance, some states will allow no more than $100,000 of property to bypass probate and be handed down to the beneficiary of an estate immediately.
Reasons for Probate
Some of the reasons for probate include the following:
- Determining the validity of a will
- Determining if the current copy of the will is the most up to date copy
- To determine if the will was written of free will and with a witness on hand
- To determine whether or not a will might be have been forged
- Determining whether or not the decedent was of sound mind when the will was created
Probate Legal Help
If you or a loved one is headed to a probate property dispute, contact a wills and inheritance attorney immediately for expert legal counsel regarding your situation today. An attorney will be able to answer all of your questions and help you get through the lengthy probate process.