Benefits of Keeping Assets out of Probate

Generally speaking, some of the benefits of passing your property to your heirs as non-probate assets include:

Timing and Paperwork

Most of your non-probate assets will pass immediately upon your death to the person designated by you. This will occur with a minimum of paperwork and contrasts greatly with the amount of time and work that would be required to pass the same assets through probate. When assets pass through probate, the heirs may need to wait many months (or longer) for the probate process to be completed before they can receive the assets.

Privacy

Probate assets that pass under a Will are a matter of public record. This means that anyone can go to your local Register of Wills office and freely inspect your Will, an inventory of your assets, an inheritance tax return, and other documents. In contrast, information regarding non-probate assets, including the type and value (amount) of the assets and the designated beneficiaries, is not available for public inspection.

Limiting Taxes

Designated beneficiaries of certain non-probate assets may be able to pay a lesser amount of inheritance tax on the assets than they would have been required to pay if the same assets had passed through probate. (This inheritance tax savings does not apply to all non-probate assets.)

Limiting Controversy

When a designated beneficiary receives a non-probate asset, other potential heirs who may object to the beneficiary’s receipt of the asset will have fewer grounds for contesting the bequest.

Limiting Costs

The costs associated with passing a particular asset through probate are often greater than the costs associated with passing the same asset (as a non-probate asset) to a designated beneficiary.

Simplicity and Flexibility

Passing certain types of assets to beneficiaries as non-probate assets allows for a simple and uncomplicated method of controlling the specific amount of money (or asset value) that you want a particular beneficiary to receive. This can be done quickly and easily, without the expense and time required to change your Will.

NEXT: Risks of Keeping Assets out of Probate