As you start to consider what to include in your estate plan, you may have heard that some of your assets may pass to beneficiaries through operation of law. It is important to know which assets fall into this category since it could create some problems during the probate and estate administration process if you attempt to put them in your will. However, like others here in the Nashville area, you may not know which ones those are.
If you have a life insurance policy and a retirement plan, you may remember filling out a beneficiary designation form. That form indicates who receives the proceeds of these assets, which overrides anything you may put in your will. The same goes for any bank accounts for which you executed a POD, or payment on death, form and for any securities for which you executed a TOD, or transfer on death form.
Another important situation in which assets do not go through probate include any real property you may own in joint tenancy with right of survivorship. Upon the death of you or the other owner, the surviving owner automatically receives the deceased person’s ownership interest in the property. If you have a revocable living trust, the assets in the trust will not go through probate either.
If you want to make sure that your surviving loved ones have quick access to certain assets upon your death, you can take certain actions such as those listed above to make sure that they avoid probate, which can take months or even years to complete. In addition, you would want to make sure that you do not inadvertently cause your surviving family members any problems by including these assets in your will. One way to help ensure you do not make any potentially costly mistakes in your estate plan is to work with a knowledgeable attorney who can review your situation and help you create a plan that meets your goals and wishes.