Your Will is an essential estate planning document. However, it covers only those assets that make up your probate estate. There are other assets called non-probate assets and your Will does not control these. Your Phoenix estate planning lawyer needs to know about both types of assets when preparing an estate plan.
Non-probate assets are normally those for which you have already designated a beneficiary upon your death. These are often:
- Life Insurance policies,
- Retirement plans such as 401k’s or IRA’s,
- Payable on Death (POD) and Transfer on Death (TOD) accounts,
- Property held with another person as Joint Tenants with right of survivorship or Community Property with right of survivorship,
- Property held in a revocable living trust, and
- Real property for which you have executed a beneficiary deed.
In many cases, non-probate assets make up the majority of an estate. So it is critical, when doing estate planning, to review and update all of the beneficiary designations for such assets. The beneficiary designations should be consistent with and support the estate plan set forth in other estate planning documents such as a revocable living trust. In some cases, it can be appropriate to make your revocable living trust your beneficiary. In this way all assets will be administered via your trust for the benefit of your trust beneficiaries by the successor trustee chosen by you.
When preparing an estate plan with a purpose of probate avoidance, transforming probate assets into non-probate assets is the goal. In most cases, this can be done best through the use of a revocable living trust.
The lawyers at Platt and Westby, P.C. have been practicing in the area of Probate and Estate Administration for over 40 years. Contact any of our Probate lawyers at 602-277-4441 or use the e-mail contact utility on our website at www.plattwestby.com to schedule a no-fee initial conference concerning any Probate or Estate matter. We will answer your questions and, where appropriate, suggest potential solutions.
Platt and Westby, P.C. has offices in Phoenix, Arrowhead, Avondale, Scottsdale and Gilbert, Arizona.