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How wills are processed after death

Most people have a will in place at the time of their death. After a person passes away, this will need to be processed so that assets can be handled and passed to beneficiaries. Wills are often referred to as tickets to probate court because they inform the probate court on how to move forward with the deceased person's assets.

If you are in the process of creating an estate plan, you must have a good understanding of how wills are dealt with at the end of a person's life.

Assets that go through probate

Most assets, but not all, are dealt with through probate. These assets will be transferred to the beneficiary named in the will after the will has been determined to be valid, all debts in the estate have been paid and all tax documents have been filed.

Assets that do not go through probate

Some assets do not need to go through the probate process. Many estate planners put in place strategies to try to avoid probate since it can be costly and lengthy. Any assets that are held within living trusts are able to avoid the probate process. Additionally, property held in joint tenancy will automatically be transferred fully to the surviving owner. Life insurance proceeds are also paid to the beneficiaries that are designated in the policy, so they do not need to be mentioned in a will.

If you are currently planning your estate, you may want to learn more about the benefits of probate avoidance before writing your will. Doing so could help maximize the amount of money that your loved ones will be set to inherit.

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