When in the process of estate planning, it's important to know the difference between probate assets and non-probate assets. Probate assets are those that go through the court in order to get distributed to the beneficiaries, while non-probate assets are those that go directly to the beneficiaries. A probate proceeding takes place in the probate court of the county where the decedent lived at their death. This is a court supervised process of legally transferring ownership of property from the decedent to those entitled to the property. For estates over $40,000, the process takes 6 months at a minimum, as required by law.
The probate court process can become time consuming and costly very quickly if there are lots of assets involved, which is why it's important to make a proper estate plan with a qualified estate planning attorney ahead of time.
Probate assets are those assets that aren't "joint assets" and are owned solely by the decedent. Probate assets include:
Life insurance policies or investment accounts that list only the decedent as the beneficiary.
Any stake in a business.
Personal property like vehicles, furniture, lawn equipment, jewlery, art, etc.
Checking or Savings accounts solely owned by the decedent.
Non-probate assets are those assets that are jointly owned with another indvidual or individual(s). Non-probate assets include:
Any property owned jointly with someone else.
Property that's held in a trust.
Any bank account owned jointly with your spouse or with payable on death or transfer on death beneficiaries.
Any private property like vehicles or boats co-owned with someone else.
Certain annuities and investment accounts.
Life insurance accounts that list someone as the beneficiary.
What if I need to hire a probate attorney?
When hiring a probate attorney, it's important that they are well versed in all areas of estate law. The Missouri probate attorneys at Northland Elder Law of Kansas City have decades of combined experience in all matters of probate administration and estate planning. Contact Northland Elder Law today if you're a Missouri resident in need of help establishing a will and trust or if you're in need of assistance during the probate process.