Many people think that as long as they’ve officially drawn up a will, they have complete control over how their property is distributed after their death. What they don’t understand is there are different categories of property under the law, and those categories can make a difference in the way their wishes are carried out.

The main difference is in probate and non-probate. The simplest definition of probate property is that it is any property that is solely in the name of the deceased person. This could include a house, a car, money in a bank account, stocks or other assets that are in the name of the deceased. Non-probate property is anything that lists the deceased as a joint owner with someone else (who has the right of survivorship). This could include things like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, where there could be beneficiaries.

When it comes to non-probate property, the joint owners and beneficiaries outrank the instructions in a will. That means when someone passes away, the non-probate property they have automatically becomes the property of any joint owners or beneficiaries, no matter what the will says.

The issue is a complicated one, and it pays to consult an experienced attorney to find out the best way to structure your affairs so you can avoid problems when your estate is probated. If you need expert advice about probate and non-probate property, contact Grissom Law, LLC at 678-781-9230. We work with individuals and families to develop estate plans and to probate estates.


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