A person’s estate is his assets. These assets take the form of bank accounts, real property, personal property, stock holdings, interest in a business, etc. When a person dies parts of the estate—or all of it—may be subject to probate. Working with a Conroe probate attorney in planning your estate can help alleviate the need for probate later. So, let’s define what the probate estate is.
Probate and Non-Probate Estate
The assets of a decedent fall into two categories: probate or non-probate. Those that are non-probate include assets for which there is provision for direct distribution. For instance, your Conroe probate attorney may have helped you set up a living trust. Those assets in essence no longer belong to the decedent, and therefore are part of the non-probate estate. Some other non-probate assets are:
- Joint tenancy property
- Bank accounts that are jointly held and possess right of survivorship
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance
- Community property
- Assets directed to specific beneficiaries in a will
The probate estate, by contrast, is comprised of all assets that do not fall under non-probate status. These can include assets for which no specific beneficiary is named. In some cases beneficiaries contest a will, in which case the probate court will need to rule on how estate assets are distributed.
Your Conroe probate attorney will tell you that it is in the best interests of your beneficiaries for an estate not to have to pass through probate. This is part of why estate planning is so important. If you die without a will at all, in fact, your entire estate will by necessity have to go through probate. This can mean that your wishes for how your estate will be distributed may not be realized. Probate also delays distribution. Indeed, it is possible that, without a will, a portion of your estate will escheat, which means that it will be claimed by the state.