When you die in Michigan, a portion of your estate might have to go through probate before your beneficiaries can receive their assets. Probate is the process in which your assets are distributed to your heirs and beneficiaries. Fortunately, there are a few assets that won’t have to go through probate if you plan accordingly.
Can certain assets be left out of probate?
Most assets that have beneficiary designations won’t have to go through probate. This can include savings accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts. For this reason, it’s important to name beneficiaries during the estate planning process.
It’s also important to review your beneficiaries periodically. If one of the people that you named dies before you do, that asset will technically have no beneficiary. As a result, it might have to go through probate. This also applies to any assets that don’t have a named beneficiary. Don’t assume that your spouse or children will get the asset automatically–if you don’t name them specifically, the asset will have to go through probate like everything else.
In some situations, your attorney might recommend naming your estate as the beneficiary for certain assets. This can have financial benefits when you’re still alive. But when you’re gone, the asset will have to go through probate because it doesn’t have a living beneficiary.
How can you protect your family members after you’re gone?
A well-written estate plan is one of the biggest gifts you can give your friends and family members. With an attorney’s help, you could write an estate plan that avoids estate taxes as much as possible, allowing your heirs to keep the bulk of their inheritance. You might also be able to keep certain assets from going through probate. An estate plan can also reduce or eliminate in-fighting among family members. When you have an estate plan, there won’t be any debate about how your assets will be distributed. You can divide up your assets and act in your family’s best interests at all times.