Does my estate include my accounts with beneficiary designations?

What is included in my Estate?

An estate includes all probate property you own at death. Probate property is generally defined as property titled in your name without a beneficiary designation or a right of survivorship. This can include real estate, home furnishings, cars, bank accounts, cash, investment accounts and even some stock. Your retirement account is generally non-probate property because it has a designated beneficiary. Beneficiary designations whould be reviewed and updated regularly.

Determining whether property is probate or non-probate property is not always straight forward. Non-probate property can become probate property if there is no living beneficiary or if the beneficiary is your estate. You should review your property with your estate planning attorney to verify whether it is probate or non-probate property.

But your estate is not just your tangible probate property and it is not limited to what you have now. Your estate includes your future probate property and your future rights. Your rights can be the right to collect on a debt, the right to file a lawsuit to recover damages, or the right to enforce a contract.

If you have not created a will and named an executor/personal representative, your family or friends may have to petition a court to be appointed to enforce your rights. Intestacy proceedings can be more complicated than probate of a will and may require your personal representative to purchase a bond to open an intestate estate to collect a payment or wrongful death settlement. Additionally, without a will, you cannot choose who will receive your probate property or be named as guardian of any minor children. The distribution of your property and your child's guardian will be determined by state law and a court.

For more information about probate and non-probate property, contact us to schedule a private consultation in our Ballantyne office by calling 980.247.3011 or fill out the contact form below.

DISCLAIMER: This is an advertisement and contains general educational information only. The information offered in this post does not constitute legal advice and reading the information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Nancy Roberts or the Brockmann Law Firm. Before taking any action, you should always seek legal advice from an attorney you hire, who advises you based on your specific facts, circumstances, situation, and the appropriate governing law.

Nancy Roberts
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