Indeed, the difficulties of dealing with a death in the family can be exacerbated by disputes over how to distribute ones personal property after a loved ones death. These problems are ostensibly resolved through probate, which is the legal process of transferring ownership of personal property from the deceased to another person.
However, it is common to have will contests where a party disputes whether a beneficiary should receive a particular item or be given a certain parcel of property. Disputes that are to be resolved through probate court can be costly and time consuming. Moreover, the relationships that existed before court proceedings can be damaged beyond repair.
So for people who want to distribute assets without the trouble of probate, there are options. This post will highlight a couple of common assets that can be transferred without a court order.
Real property held in joint tenancy If you hold property that is titled in joint tenancy, this means that your interest will transfer automatically pass to the next surviving tenant or to your spouse when you pass away by operation of law. As such, probate may not be needed to recognize this change.
Life insurance proceeds Distributions to beneficiaries from a life insurance policy are another example of assets that generally do not have to pass through probate. The reasons behind this are fairly simple. The beneficiaries are identified within the policy, and their respective shares are more likely to be clearly noted. So once the insurance company is properly notified and distribution papers are completed, the proceeds can be transferred without the need for probate.