Assets That Do NOT Go Through Probate in Pennsylvania
When someone passes away, their final affairs go through a process called probate or estate administration as a way to bring closure to legal and financial matters. The person is no longer around to distribute assets, pay last bills and taxes, and handle other tasks, so Pennsylvania probate statutes provide a process for another person to step into the decedent’s shoes. Estate administration is handled by the executor when an individual has a will, and a personal administrator is appointed when there is no will.
However, not all assets that belonged to the deceased person will go through probate. Some are separate for different reasons, either because of state law or the decedent’s estate planning efforts remove them from estate administration. It is important to understand non-probate assets if you are the administrator, and there are details that could even guide you with your own estate planning. It is smart to discuss your circumstances with a Lehighton probate attorney. The following are some examples of assets that do not go through estate administration.
Pay-on-Death Accounts: When setting up a savings, checking, or other bank account, you have the option of designating a beneficiary. These provisions are termed pay or transfer on death, which means the passing of the owner is all that is needed to release the proceeds of the account to the beneficiary.
Real Estate: Many spouses and other parties own tracts of property jointly, and these assets are not part of probate if the deed contains specific language – Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (JTROS). When a joint tenant dies, the share does NOT go to that person’s estate. Instead, the share goes to the remaining joint owners. With a married couple, the home will not go through probate upon the death of the first.
Other Jointly Held Assets: There are many other types of personal property that can be held jointly with survivorship rights, such as:
- A vehicle registered to joint tenants;
- Bank accounts; and,
Life Insurance: When you purchase a life insurance policy, you will designate a beneficiary to receive the proceeds. To access the account, that person will simply need to show a death certificate because the policy is transferred to the beneficiary by operation of law.
Assets Held in a Living Trust: Some individuals choose to keep assets separate out of probate by creating and funding a revocable living trust. The person signs the documents to make the trust effective during their lifetime, transferring title on assets into the name of the trust. These are no longer owned by the individual, so they are not part of the estate when he or she dies. The trustee manages the assets when the grantor passes away.
Get Help from a Pennsylvania Probate Lawyer Today
Besides the estate planning advantages, you can see that no-probate assets are important when you are an interested party in estate administration. For more information, please contact the Law Office of Kim M. Gillen, P.C. We can set up a consultation with a skilled Carbon County probate attorney.