Assets that remain inside of your New York estate will likely be subject to probate when you pass. However, it’s possible that at least some of your assets will be able to bypass this process if you use beneficiary designations. In addition, any assets that are owed jointly with others will likely pass to the other owners without the need for a judge’s blessing.
Assets eligible for beneficiary designations
Beneficiary designations are most often used with bank accounts, retirement accounts and life insurance policies. In some cases, it may be possible to use a beneficiary designation to transfer ownership of a vehicle or other tangible assets. However, the language in a beneficiary designation trumps the language of your will. Holding routine estate planning sessions may allow you to catch any discrepancies before they cause problems.
In New York, estates worth less than $30,000 may be able to avoid probate altogether, and this is often true even if the deceased didn’t have a will. However, even if probate is necessary, it may be possible to settle a smaller estate in a matter of weeks as opposed to several months. Closing an estate as quickly as possible may prevent issues such as family infighting from developing.
Avoiding probate may be ideal if you want to maintain your privacy and ensure that your assets are transferred to their appointed beneficiaries as quickly as possible after you pass on. In addition to using beneficiary designations, the use of a trust may enable your loved ones to settle your affairs in a timely and private manner. Additionally, some trusts can be changed periodically, so if you have a larger estate, they’re an option to consider.