In most instances, a will is required to go through probate to prove its validity.
Investopedia’s recent article entitled “When the Beneficiaries of a Will Are Notified” explains that there are exceptions to the requirement for probate such as if the diseased’s assets are below a set dollar amount. This dollar amount varies by state.
For example, in Alabama, the threshold is $3,000, and in California, the cut-off is an estate with assets valued at less than $150,000. Here in Iowa, an estate will stay out of probate if it is less than $50,000 and does not involve real estate.
The beneficiaries of a will must be notified after the will is filed in the probate court, and in addition, probated wills are placed in the public record. As a result, anyone who wants to look, can find out the details. When the will is proved to be valid, anyone can look at the will at the courthouse where it was filed, including anyone who expects to be a beneficiary.
As a reminder, probate is a legal process that establishes the validity of a will. After examining the will, the probate judge collects the decedent’s assets with the help of the executor. When all of the assets and property are inventoried, they are then distributed to the heirs as instructed in the will.
Once the probate court declares the will to be valid, all beneficiaries are required to be notified within a certain period that varies according to state probate law.
However, if the estate is structured to avoid probate, there are no specific notification requirements.
Setting up a joint tenancy, making an asset payable upon death, or creating a trust are all ways to avoid probate. In these circumstances, there are no mandatory, formal notification requirements..
In addition, some types of assets are not required to go through probate. These assets include accounts, such as pension assets, life insurance proceeds and individual retirement accounts (IRAs).
The county courthouse will file its probated wills in a department, often called the Register of Wills.
A will is a wise plan for everyone. Ask a qualified estate planning attorney to help you draft yours today.
Reference: Investopedia (Nov. 21, 2019) “When the Beneficiaries of a Will Are Notified”