You may not give much thought to the subject of probate since it has to do with your will and the disposition of assets following your death,
However, knowing which of your assets are likely headed to probate and which are not will help clarify your thoughts about your estate planning needs.
Probate is the process of settling your property—or estate— after you die according to the instructions in your will. The assets in which you hold an interest comprise the sum of your taxable estate. However, only those assets that are in your name alone are subject to probate. If you should die intestate, or without a will, the state of Oklahoma will see that your assets pass to your heirs at law through the probate process.
Assets not subject to probate
Usually, any of your assets bearing a named beneficiary are not subject to probate, including:
- Accounts such as your 401(k) or IRA, which allow you to name beneficiaries
- Insurance policy proceeds
- Trusts, including the content such as cash or real property
- Assets showing joint ownership with right of survivorship
Assets subject to probate
- Personal property
- Real estate
- Cash and cash accounts that do not have a TOD designation
- Assets that allow beneficiaries but for which none have been named
- Assets held as tenants in common
Probate will take months and cause delays in making distributions to beneficiaries. To avoid this and arrange for direct payments, name beneficiaries for your accounts whenever possible. Also, name alternatives. If your beneficiaries include minors or loved ones with special needs, your attorney can help you establish trusts or make the other arrangements so that the probate process will not adversely affect them.