Probate vs Probate Assets In Georgia

Probate vs Probate Assets In Georgia

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Probate vs non-probate assets determine what has to go through probate. 

You’ll learn about:

  • what assets require probate
  • what makes assets “non-probate”
  • how to set your property up to avoid probate

Let’s dig in.

Probate vs Probate Assets

Let’s talk about what these are:

  • Probate Assets: Assets that have to go through probate to transfer to your heirs. 
  • Non-Probate Assets: Assets that can bypass probate to transfer to your heirs. 

Probate vs non-probate assets depends on: 

  • the title of the property
  • beneficiary designations
Asset TypeProbate AssetNon-Probate Asset
Real EstateSole ownership, tenant in commonJoint tenancy, Transfer on Death Deed
Personal PropertySolely owned items, personal collectiblesJointly owned, designated beneficiaries
Bank & Investment AccountsIndividual accounts without POD/TODAccounts with POD/TOD, joint accounts
Insurance & Retirement AccountsPolicies/accounts without named beneficiariesPolicies/accounts with named beneficiaries
VehiclesSolely owned vehiclesVehicles owned jointly or with a transfer on death title
Business InterestsSolely owned or without continuity provisionsOwnership with buy-sell agreements or in continuity-based entities
Trust Assets--Assets held in a living trust
Digital Assets & Safety Deposit BoxesLacking clear beneficiary designationsWith beneficiary designations or in a digital plan

Types of Probate Assets

Probate assets are those that were held solely in the deceased’s name. 

You’ll need the probate process to transfer ownership. 

Common situations are: 

  • Real Estate: Property solely in the decedent’s name or as a tenant in common.
  • Personal Property: Vehicles, jewelry, and other personal items.
  • Bank Accounts: Accounts solely in the decedent’s name without a designated beneficiary.
  • Investments: Stocks and bonds held in the deceased’s name alone.

Types of Non-Probate Assets

Assets exempt from probate are those that: 

  • are held jointly with automatic transfers upon death
  • have payable (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) designations
  • have designated beneficiaries

These assets will avoid probate in Georgia

The property does not need probate to transfer ownership

Examples of non-probate assets are: 

  • Jointly-Owned Real Estate: Properties owned with rights of survivorship or designated to transfer directly via a deed.
  • Designated Personal Property: Items like vehicles or jewelry with named beneficiaries.
  • POD Financial Accounts: Bank or brokerage accounts that immediately transfer to a beneficiary upon death.
  • TOD Investments: Securities that are directly assigned to a beneficiary.
  • Retirement Accounts: IRAs, 401(k)s, and pensions with specified beneficiaries.
  • Life Insurance: Policies with direct beneficiary payouts.
  • Trust Assets: Property controlled by trusts, bypassing probate.
  • Business Succession Interests: Business stakes pre-arranged to transfer to designated successors.

Key Differences Between Probate and Probate Assets

Let’s look at how these are handled differently. 

AspectProbate AssetsNon-Probate Assets
Court SupervisionOverseen by courtsNo court involvement
AdministrationManaged by an appointed individualAutomatic transfer to a beneficiary
Public RecordPublicly accessiblePrivate and confidential
CreditorsCreditors can claim against the estateCreditors cannot claim
TimeframeLonger due to the court processQuick transfer
CostInvolves court and attorney feesGenerally lower costs
FlexibilityChanges require legal proceedingsEasier to change designations

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Probate Assets

  • Court Supervision: Probate asset distribution is overseen by the courts. 
  • Administration: Someone is appointed to manage the estate, pay debts, and distribute these assets.
  • Public Record: Probate is public record, so anyone can see what you’re inheriting or passing down.

Non-Probate Assets

  • No Court Process: They pass directly to the beneficiary without court involvement. 
  • Automatic Transfer: They automatically pass to the beneficiary without probate. 
  • Creditors: Creditors cannot access these properties for probate repayment. 
  • Privacy: Since it’s not a public record, there is more confidentiality. 

How To Avoid Probate

There are several tools to let assets avoid probate: 

  • Joint Ownership: JTWROS automatically passes property to surviving owners. 
  • Living Trust: The trust owns the assets, which do not go through probate. 
  • Beneficiary Designations: Assets will automatically transfer upon your death. 
  • POD and TOD Designations: Assets will automatically transfer upon your death.  

These tools turn probate assets into “non-probate assets.”

Fill out the form to have us set up your estate to avoid probate. 

Get Help From An Estate Lawyer

Are you overwhelmed by the Georgia probate process

Our Georgia probate attorneys handle everything for you.

We specialize in taking as much as possible off your plate so that you are not: 

  • personally financially liable
  • accidentally breaking the law
  • filling out the paperwork wrong
  • not notifying or paying off creditors
  • dealing with disputes among family

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