Ohio Attorney Kathryn T. Joseph Examines Probate vs. Non-Probate Assets

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Cleveland elder law and estate matters attorney Kathryn T. Joseph discusses the difference between probate and non-probate assets.

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First, tend to your loss and the funeral arrangements, and allow yourself time to grieve. Dealing with your loved one’s assets and liabilities can wait.

What is the first thing one should do when someone dies? “First, tend to your loss and the funeral arrangements, and allow yourself time to grieve,” said attorney Kathryn T. Joseph, founder of Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc. “Dealing with your loved one’s assets and liabilities can wait.”

However, when one is ready to proceed, it is important to collect information regarding all of the loved one’s assets. “Determine what assets are held jointly, what assets have a beneficiary named and what assets are held only in the deceased person’s name with no beneficiary,” noted Joseph.

Assets that are held jointly, or which have a beneficiary named (e.g., “payable on death” or “transfer on death”) are non-probate assets. These can be transferred directly to the co-owner or the named beneficiary without the need for probate court estate administration.

“Assets that are held solely in your loved one’s name and without a beneficiary cannot be transferred without probate court estate administration,” added Joseph. “There are different options for probating these assets depending on their value. If the value of the assets is small, most states have a small estate procedure which is simpler and quicker to administer than a full estate. Otherwise, a full estate needs to be opened.”

In some states, the decedent’s creditors are entitled to be repaid from both probate and non-probate assets. In other states, creditors can only recover from probated assets. Usually, there is a state statute that governs how long a creditor has to assert its claim against the probate and non-probate assets.

“By naming beneficiaries to your financial and retirement accounts, vehicles and real estate, your assets can be directly and quickly distributed at your death without the need for probate court estate administration because these assets will be deemed non-probate assets,” concluded Joseph. “If you do not take this step, your assets will be deemed probate assets and transfer of title will require a probate court administration. If you have a will, title to the assets will be transferred to those beneficiaries named in your will. If you have no will, title to the assets will be transferred to your next of kin.”

About Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc.
Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc. provides individuals with the exceptional technical proficiency and litigation experience normally associated with large national firms. Practice areas include estate administration, elder law,estate planning, probate and guardianships. For more information, call (216) 245-0504, or visit http://www.ktjlawfirm.com. The law office is located at Executive Commons West, 29425 Chagrin Blvd., Suite 305,
Cleveland, OH 44122.

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