When it comes to understanding estate planning, it is extremely important to understand the different types of assets that exist. There are two distinct varieties of assets in Florida: probate and non-probate. But how can you tell them apart and why does it matter? Here’s The Berman Law Group’s helpful guide to probate vs. non-probate: what’s the difference?
The Probate Process
Probate assets concern to the process of how the court determines how to distribute an individual’s property after they have passed away. Probate assets are distributed to family members by the court, whereas non-probate assets are assets which go directly to any beneficiaries, completely bypassing the court process. In the probate process, a will must be filed, and an executor appointed to collect assets, pay bills, file taxes, distribute property and file the final accounts. Since the probate process can be time-consuming and expensive, it is common for individuals to try to avoid it and have non-probate assets.
Probate assets are any assets that are owned solely by the decedent. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Any real property that is titled in the decedent’s name only, or held as a tenant in common.
- Personal property, such as jewelry, furniture or vehicles.
- Bank accounts that are solely in the decedent’s name.
- An interest, or stock, in a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC).
- Any life insurance policy or brokerage account that lists either the decedent or the estate as its beneficiary
So, non-probate assets are assets which bypass the court system and are awarded directly to any beneficiaries. Non-probate assets can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Property that is held in joint tenancy or as tenants by the entirety.
- Any bank or brokerage accounts held in joint tenancy or with payable on death or transfer on death beneficiaries.
- Any property held in a trust.
- Life insurance or brokerage accounts that list someone other than the decedent as the main beneficiary.
- Any retirement accounts.
Contact an Experienced Probate Attorney Today
When planning an estate or trust, it is essential that you to take into account whether your property is considered probate property or non-probate property. This is because a personal will does not control the distribution of non-probate property. Ensure that you check the ownership of your property and your accounts to make sure that any jointly owned property will be distributed in the manner you want it to be. It is also important to review your beneficiary designations, to ensure that they also meet your wishes.
If you are looking to establish a trust, plan your estate, or if you have been named as the personal representative of a deceased individual in the State of Florida, you should seek legal counsel immediately. Make sure you get a trusted and experienced probate attorney who is willing to fight for your rights. Call The Berman Law Group right now at (800) 375-5555 for your free consultation.