Probate vs. Non-probate Assets | Estate Planning TV 007

There is a way to eliminate probate from many or almost all of your assets. That is by creating non-probate sort of structures to take care of them. Non-probate assets are essentially defined as any asset that pass to people outside of probate. Probate assets are assets that have to be distributed and retitled via the probate process.

Non-probate assets for the most part are anything that you can distribute to a beneficiary designation. So think about life insurance, retirement accounts, investment accounts, bank accounts with transfer on death designations. These are all non-probate assets if you set and define the beneficiaries who will receive the proceeds from these accounts when you die. In the past, your typical probate assets have been real property and the reason for that is it needs to be retitled to pass to the next person and usually a new deed needs to be drawn up. In Washington State, they used to not allow the transfer on death deed to work or operate. Those rules didn’t exist in Washington State. That’s been changed. You can now designate real property to transfer upon your death outside of probate. There are some things to think about before you do that. Non-probate assets are anything that passes outside of the probate process. The probate process is really just a process of retitling and distributing your assets when they haven’t been done outside of probate.

Christopher Small is the owner of CMS Law Firm LLC a Seattle estate planning law firm. Click here for a free strategy session.