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Not all assets are subject to probate

As an heir or beneficiary, it's important that you have a clear understanding of what to expect during the probate process. This goes a long way in putting your mind at ease, while also helping you make informed decisions.

If the deceased individual had a will, not a trust, all of their assets will go through probate. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Here are some of the assets that are not subject to probate:

  • Life insurance proceeds: If you're listed as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy, you'll receive the death benefit without it going through probate.
  • Property in living trusts: Any assets that are part of a living trust are not subject to probate. Along with privacy protection, this is one of the top reasons to create a living trust.
  • Joint tenancy: Any property held in joint tenancy is not subject to probate. Instead, upon the person's death, the deceased's interest automatically goes to the joint tenant. Real estate is a good example of this.

If you're in line to receive property as the result of another person's death, it's critical that you understand the probate process and your legal rights.

For example, you can use proceeds from a life insurance policy to pay for final expenses, as you won't have to wait as long to receive the payout.

Knowing which assets are and aren't subject to probate is important as an heir or beneficiary. This allows you to make key decisions, protect your legal rights and eliminate unnecessary stress during a high tension time in your life.

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