By Attorney Kelly Jesson
At Jesson & Rains, we review our estate planning clients’ assets and liabilities in order to provide them with a thorough consultation as to the treatment of their assets and liabilities upon death.
Essentially everything a person owns when they die is included in their “estate,” including assets that pass outside of probate. This is also called your “taxable estate.” A “probate estate” consists of assets that go through court-supervised probate before getting to beneficiaries. During the probate process, the decedent’s will is filed, assets are collected, bills are paid, and then whatever is left goes to the beneficiaries per the will. Probate assets are singularly owned real, personal, and business property without rights of survivorship and without a beneficiary designated.
However, a lot of assets pass outside of the probate estate upon death. Life insurance or retirement plans with named beneficiaries, jointly owned property with rights of survivorship, and any other accounts or securities with pay on death or transfer on death designees (POD or TOD) are not included in the probate estate (unless the decedent names the estate as the beneficiary or the beneficiary has predeceased the decedent without a successor named).
Why does this matter? How assets pass at death determine whether a person could benefit from a will or trust. Sometimes, it’s necessary for attorneys to retitle assets in order to achieve estate planning goals and ease of transfer at death.
Each client is different. Some have complex interests in various types of property, some own property singularly or are not married, and some have a lot of debt that is cause for concern. Without a thorough consultation, your estate plan may not be complete. It is important for the attorney to get a complete picture in order to tailor your estate plan to your needs and wishes. Give Jesson & Rains a call for more information!
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