Advice for Probate in Indiana
We work closely with our clients, demystifying each step of the negotiation process to inform and counsel them so they understand the difference between probate and non-probate assets. We work with them to consider creative strategies to avoid or minimize the expense of probate. When advising our clients on estate and wealth planning issues, the attorneys at NLKJ focus on external risks that can potentially endanger what’s rightfully yours. These risks can arise with claims from creditors, challenges from relatives, changes in inheritance taxes and laws, and failure to take full advantage of government programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are our responses to some of the frequently asked questions that we receive:
What is 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).
What are typical probate assets?
Assets which may be part of the Probate process are any assets that are owned solely by the decedent. Such assets can include the following:
- Real property that is titled solely in the deceased person’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 deceased person or the estate as the beneficiary
What triggers the probate process?
The probate process begins with filing a validly executed will and appointing an executor or administrator, collecting assets, paying bills, filing taxes, distributing property to heirs, and filing a final account. This may be a costly and time-consuming process, which is why some people try to avoid probate by having only non-probate assets. Our approach is to counsel clients in advance of anticipated costs of probate so they can make an informed decision about probate.
What are typical non-probate assets?
Non-probate assets can include the following:
- Property that is held in jointly with another or as “tenants by the entirety”
- Bank or brokerage accounts held in joint tenancy or with payable on death or transfer on death beneficiaries
- Property held in a trust
- Life insurance or brokerage accounts that list someone other than the decedent as the beneficiary
- Retirement accounts where the beneficiary has been assigned.