When a person passes away and hands down their assets to their family or friends, it may not be as easy as putting their property into a new name. Many times, their property needs to go through probate courts. But what is probate? Probate is the legal process - involving the probate court - of distributing assets after someone’s death. It may not be necessary and it could be costly, so let’s take a look at if and why you would need a probate.
To determine whether or not there will be a probate court proceeding needed, two factors will be needed a closer look.:
1. The kind of assets in the estate
2. The monetary value of the estate property.
Some of the kinds of assets that will not need to go through a probate court proceeding: property held in a living trust, retirement accounts where a beneficiary was named, real estate, bank accounts, and other assets owned in a joint tenancy, community property with right of survivorship, or tenancy by the entirety, payable-on death bank accounts, vehicles or securities registered in a transfer in death form. If the estate consists of these different items, it is more than likely that a probate will not be necessary.
As for the total value of the property in the estate, a person can avoid a probate by having a smaller estate under a certain monetary value. If it is above the monetary value, then they will have to go to probate court - unless it falls under the certain types of assets, mentioned above. Each state has a different monetary value, for example Massachusetts is only $15,000, and Hawaii is $100,000. However there are some shortcuts people can take to keep the limit under their states limit. By taking advantage of the rules listed above, by having a jointly owned account, an asset with a payable-on-death beneficiary, or an IRA, these would not fall under the total monetary limit.
If you have any additional questions about wills or estates, please feel free to contact the Law Offices of Nicholas J. Del Pizzo, today!