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Knowing which assets will go through probate may help you plan

Many Michigan residents do not think that they need an estate plan. They may believe that their family will know what to do with their assets or that state laws will handle the distribution. While laws do exist for handling an estate without a will, that distribution may not align with your wishes. Additionally, more conflict could arise within the family if you do not create a plan yourself.

Because you love your family, you undoubtedly do not want to make anything more difficult on them than it has to be. After your passing, they will certainly feel a great deal of grief, and trying to handle your estate matters without knowing what you wanted could cause them even more difficulties. As a result, you  may want to assess your estate and determine what planning measures could suit your needs and wishes.

What will go through probate?

One benefit of planning ahead is that you can decide how you want your probate proceedings handled. You may not feel the need to take any measures to avoid probate, or you may want to help your family shorten the process as much as possible. In order to decide, you may want to know what property will likely go through this legal process. It could include the following:

  • Joint property titled as tenants-in-common: You may think that jointly owned property will pass directly to the co-owner, but that will not happen unless the property has rights to survivorship or if you explicitly pass your ownership of the property to the co-owner in your will.
  • Your individual property: You may have funds in bank accounts, jewelry, investments, vehicles, real estate or even just sentimental items that will need distributing during probate.
  • Accounts with outdated beneficiaries: Some accounts, like bank accounts or retirement accounts, allow you to name a beneficiary to receive the funds almost immediately after your passing. However, if you do not name a beneficiary or do not update a designation after a person's passing, the assets will have to go through probate.
  • Assets outside of a trust: A trust can keep assets from going through probate because they are removed from the ownership of the estate, but if you do not place all the intended assets into the ownership of the trust, probate will address the remaining assets.

As you can see, you may have a considerable number of assets that will need addressing after your passing. Rather than leaving matters up to chance, you may want to review your estate planning options.

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