Is Probate Necessary If There Are No Assets?
If there are no assets, there is no reason to go through a probate. Sometimes, probate is pretty expensive. Why spend thousands of dollars to get nothing? If there are no assets, there is nothing to do.
Does All Of A Deceased Person’s Property Have To Go Through Probate?
Not every piece of property has to go through probate. If someone has designated a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, even though their house or vehicles are going through probate court, the life insurance will not. All you have to do is notify the insurance company and give them a copy of the death certificate, and they are going to pay directly to whoever the beneficiary is. Sometimes, people update their will to leave everything to their spouse but forget to update their life insurance policy beneficiaries. Maybe your brother was your beneficiary 20 years ago, if you never update that beneficiary designation then your brother is going to get access to that life insurance policy despite what the will says.
It’s really important to stay on top of your beneficiary designations on your financial products because you can’t just write a will saying you leave everything to a certain person and call it a day. Another example of that are bank accounts. If you have a survivorship clause on your bank account and someone else has access to it, they are going to be able to go in and transfer that asset outside of probate. Even your entire stock portfolio or IRA retirement accounts, if you designated beneficiaries for them, are going to pass the product outside of probate regardless of what your will says.
What Are My Options For Avoiding Probate?
I frequently plan to avoid probate for my estate planning clients. The most popular option is a revocable living trust estate plan. It’s a great convenience tool for your family because if we put your assets into a trust, you still have access to and control over them. Whenever one of the spouses passes away, the other spouse has nothing to do. They don’t have to take a will to a probate judge. They don’t have to retitle anything because it’s already been titled into the trust, so they are still in control of everything. The surviving spouse doesn’t have to go through probate, and when they eventually pass away, we can pass the trust down to the children so the children don’t have to go through probate either. The end result is you can skip two probates by using a revocable living trust based estate plan.
Other common tools that I use are transfer on death deeds and beneficiary designations. If you stay on top of who you have as the beneficiary of your assets, you can structure it so that nothing passes through probate. If you don’t have a beneficiary designated, then that asset is going to pass through probate because there is no beneficiary and it falls into your probate estate.
For more information on Probate In The Absence Of Any Assets, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 851-1248 today.