The foundation of most Georgia estate plans is a Will. Your Will is the legal document that dictates how your probate assets are distributed upon your death. But what are your probate assets? The easiest way to answer this question is to first define non-probate assets.
Non-probate assets are assets that pass outside of the probate estate to a named beneficiary (or beneficiaries) and independently of your Will. These are assets that pass by operation of law or under the terms of a contract. The most common examples of non-probate assets are:
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance and most annuities
- Real estate titled jointly with rights of survivorship
- Bank accounts jointly held or with a payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) designation
Retirement accounts and life insurance have “Beneficiary Designation Forms” which are completed by the account owner to state to whom the assets should pass after the owner’s death. If these forms are not completed, generally, the default is “the estate” which pushes these assets back to the “probate assets” category.
All other assets are probate assets:
- Real estate titled solely in the name of the deceased (or jointly without rights of survivorship)
- Bank accounts owned solely by the deceased with no TOD/POD designation
- Personal property
- Business interests
- Any other assets that do not pass by operation of law or contract
These are the assets that pass under the terms of the Will and are distributed as provided in the Will.
There are many variables to consider when naming beneficiaries of non-probate assets and whether it may be advisable to leave those assets to your estate or under certain provisions of your Will. These are questions we can assist you with when crafting an appropriate estate plan that accomplishes your goals.
For more information regarding this or any other estate planning concern please contact us at 404-255-7400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.