Probate v. Non-Probate: What Is the Difference?

When planning your estate it is important to understand the difference between probate and non-probate assets. Probate is the process through which a court determines how to distribute your property after you die. Some assets are distributed to heirs by the court (probate assets) and some assets bypass the court process and go directly to your beneficiaries (non-probate assets). 

The probate process includes filing a will and appointing an executor or administrator, collecting assets, paying bills, filing taxes, distributing property to heirs, and filing a final account. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, which is why some people try to avoid probate by having only non-probate assets.

Probate assets are any assets that are owned solely by the decedent. This can include the following:

  • Real property that is titled solely in the decedent's name or held as a tenant in common
  • Personal property, such as jewelry, furniture, and automobiles
  • Bank accounts that are solely in the decedent's name
  • An interest in a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company
  • Any life insurance policy or brokerage account that lists either the decedent or the estate as the beneficiary

Non-probate assets can include the following:

  • Property that is held in joint tenancy or as tenants by the entirety
  • Bank or brokerage accounts held in joint tenancy or with payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) beneficiaries
  • Property held in a trust
  • Life insurance or brokerage account that lists someone other than the decedent as the beneficiary
  • Retirement accounts

When planning your estate, you need to take into account whether property is probate property or non-probate property. Your will does not control the distribution of non-probate property. Check the ownership of your property and your accounts to make sure jointly owned property will be distributed the way you want it to. It is also important to review your beneficiary designations.

Senior Center Hosting Health, Fitness Fair

A variety of senior topics including health, fitness, aging in place, elder abuse and scams will be addressed during a free fair in Rancho Bernardo on Tuesday.

The annual Fall Health and Fitness Fair at the Ed Brown Senior Center will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the center, 18402 W. Bernardo Drive in Rancho Bernardo Community Park. All are welcome. Admission is free.

How to Stay Sharp in Retirement

The more you want to use your brain - and the more you enjoy doing it - the more likely you are to stay sharp as you age. This is according to findings recently published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences by a team of researchers from Concordia University's Department of Psychology.

The new study has three major findings that can help forecast cognitive ability in one's golden years:

What Do you Know About Estate Planning?

Believe it or not, you have an estate. In fact, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common—you can’t take it with you when you die.

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