The probate process is something to take into consideration when you are engaged in your estate planning efforts. We practice law in the state of New Jersey. In New Jersey, probate matters are handled by the Surrogate’s Court.
When you pass away when you are in direct, sole personal possession of property, it would become probate property at first. Even if you have a will, the Surrogate’s Court would supervise the administration of the estate.
Here in New Jersey, the probate process is streamlined and efficient, so it does not present any problems. However, since it is a legal process, many people engage a probate attorney to assist.
Transfers Outside of Probate
There are some types of asset transfers that would not be subject to the probate process. One of them is the transfer of life insurance proceeds. If you have a life insurance policy on your life, the company would pay the beneficiary that you name on the policy. This transfer would not be subject to the probate process.
In the legal field, there is a condition called joint tenancy. If you were to own a home for instance, you could add a co-owner to the title or deed. This person would be called a joint tenant, and the property would be held in joint tenancy.
After the death of one joint tenant, the surviving joint tenant would inherit the entirety of the property, and this transfer would take place outside of probate.
When you open an account at a bank or brokerage, you are typically offered a payable on death option. With a payable on death or transfer on death account, you name a beneficiary when you open the account. The beneficiary cannot access resources that you convey into the account while you are alive. You have exclusive control of the account throughout your life.
After you pass away, your beneficiary would assume ownership of assets that remain in the payable on death account, and the probate process would not be a factor.
If you were to use a revocable living trust instead of a last will as the centerpiece of your estate plan, you would convey property into the trust, and you would act as the trustee while you are living. In the trust declaration, you name a successor trustee to administer the trust after your passing.
After you are gone, the successor trustee would be able to distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes outside of the probate process.
Schedule a consultation
If you have questions about probate or any other estate planning matter, our firm would be glad to provide you with answers. We offer consultations, and you can contact us through the following page to set up an appointment: Warren NJ Estate Planning Attorneys.