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Although states have slightly different rules, probate is basically the court process that ensures your wishes, as outlined in your will, are carried out. This includes the distribution of your assets – like property and investments. But many people don't want their families to go through the public and, many times, lengthy probate process.
If you understand how probate works in your state, you can put estate strategies in place to potentially avoid probate. Your financial advisor can work with you, your attorney and your tax professional to determine what may work best for your situation.
Generally, an attorney submits a last will and testament to the probate court, which starts the process to:
It's important to remember that every state and local municipality has different rules and processes for probate. Talk to your attorney to learn more about how probate may look where you live.
Some types of property (sometimes called non-probate assets) pass automatically to specific beneficiaries without a court’s involvement. For example, if you name beneficiaries on assets including transfer on death (TOD) accounts, 401(k)s, IRAs, insurance policies and annuities, they won't have to go through probate. In addition, assets that are titled in certain ways (like "joint with rights of survivorship”) don't need to go through probate since they pass directly to the other joint owner.
The probate process is intended to help provide some oversight on how your estate is handled after your death. But with that oversight come some potential disadvantages, including:
Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.
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