Avoiding Probate/Estate Administration
In addition to a living trust, there are other methods to administer your property at the time of your death, without the need for formal probate/estate administration. Property that is jointly owned with the right of survivorship goes directly to the survivor. Pensions, IRAs and life insurance policies are administered pursuant to the terms of the beneficiary provisions, and can be transferred directly by the designated beneficiary. Additionally, in the State of Indiana you may add transfer on death (TOD) beneficiary provisions to your bank accounts, investment accounts and Indiana real estate, which provide for the direct transfer of these assets to the beneficiary. Probate/estate administration is only required for property that does not have a joint owner, property that does not have a named beneficiary, or property that is not held in trust.
If your property is not jointly owned, is not owned by a trust, or is not to be administered pursuant to a beneficiary provision, it will be administered pursuant to the terms of your Last Will and Testament, or by the State laws that determine your heirs. In Indiana, if the total value of property to be administered exceeds $50,000, formal estate/probate administration will be required. If the total fair market value of assets subject to estate/probate administration in Indiana is less than $50,000, the assets may be transferred by small estate affidavit. It is important to review both the ownership and beneficiary provisions for your property if you want to avoid formal estate/probate administration.
The above is a summary of the general rules for avoiding probate/estate administration. You should not rely on this advice as each person’s plan requires review for advice that would apply to their situations. Additionally, the rules and laws may change. You should consult with your estate planning attorney on a regular basis for current information and advice.