At one point in time, each and every individual on this planet will pass away. While dying is an unavoidable part of life, being prepared for what happens to your estate after you die is one task that can result in major relief for your loved ones. When it comes to estate law in Bethesda, many citizens are unaware of the full scope and complexity of planning the wills and probate process. JDKatz is here as your go-to team of estate lawyers in Maryland, providing a wide range of estate planning and litigation for our clients. Going through the probate process can be stressful, which is why our estate planning attorneys work hard to create a personalized approach to your wills and estates. When it comes to tax law, business services, elder law, foreign account taxes, and litigation services, our team is here to provide comprehensive support.
One major issue we’ve seen facing Maryland residents is the lack of information or knowledge when it comes to the probate process. Properly understanding what assets qualify for probate and which ones don’t may prove helpful in your estate planning efforts. When done, be sure to reach out to our estate law experts to see how we can help you plan for the future.
Any probate assets that you own must go through the probate process before they can be distributed accordingly. This process involves a court examination to ensure that your will is both valid and enforceable. Once this is done, a representative is appointed to complete the task of properly distributing your assets in addition to paying any unresolved bills and tax owings.
Once the probate process is completed, your assets can be divided for each beneficiary that you have designated through your Last Will and Testament. Probate assets can be remembered as any property that is passed on through your will. These assets generally consist of any property that is owned solely by the deceased, including:
- Sole ownership properties
- Bank accounts
- Investments and stocks
- Motor vehicles
- Personal belongings
These assets are inherently different in that they are not required to go through the probate process. Any items or properties you own that can be distributed without will verification fall under the nonprobate category. Oftentimes, this approach is preferable to avoid time-consuming legal proceedings and the stress involved with such emotional affairs. While estate planning attorneys can help you to avoid the probate process almost entirely, it’s important to note that Maryland’s system is fairly streamlined and straightforward.
Your nonprobate assets often consist of property that is jointly owned by other individuals. In these cases, the distribution of your assets will be handled independently from your will. Typical non-probate assets include:
- Jointly shared bank accounts
- Life insurance payouts
- Jointly owned real estate and vehicles
- Assets from a trust
- 401(k)s, pensions, and annuities
- Life estate properties
Generally, any asset that has a shared ownership with one or more individuals does not need to go through the probate process. Your properties will automatically transfer to the remaining owners. Deciding on beneficiaries will help to clarify who receives what, especially since your Last Will and Testament is not valid for the assets mentioned above.
Assets and Proper Estate Planning
Deciding on how you want to distribute your assets will be heavily influenced by the categorization that asset falls under. As non-probate assets do not follow the process of using a will, they will work completely independent of any inheritance wishes you place in your will. Citizens have the option of changing their beneficiary designations on non-probate assets to ensure that their wishes will be upheld.
Your savings account, for example, may hold $100,000 for your children to help them in case of your passing. If you are the sole owner of this account, it will fall under probate and can be divided up equally for each child per your wishes. Now let’s say that you place your oldest child on the account as an owner to assist with paying bills, buying groceries, and so on. If you were to pass away, the joint ownership of the account would come into effect and your oldest child would inherit the full amount. This legal change can have major ramifications for your family, creating conflict and strife because your intentions for the money were not upheld.
Putting together a comprehensive estate plan will help to ensure that your last wishes are upheld in addition to avoiding conflict when deciding who is the beneficiary. For those in the Bethesda area that need help navigating the complex intricacies of estate law, the JDKatz team can help. Our estate lawyers in Maryland can work with you to create a thorough estate plan that takes all of your needs into account while minimizing complicated outcomes. Our estate planning attorneys strive to help you avoid probate litigation. Contact us today to see how we can help set your assets up for future success.