The probate process can be confusing for many people, as it deals with the distribution of a person's estate after death. One question that often comes up is whether an IRA and life insurance policy is part of the probate estate. Our Fort Lauderdale probate attorneys address that question and explain the differences between having a named beneficiary and not. We will also discuss how our firm, Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A., can assist you through the probate process.
Distribution of Assets in Probate
In Florida, the probate process begins with filing a petition with the circuit court in the county where the decedent resided at their death. Once the petition is filed, the court will appoint a personal representative to oversee the estate.
The personal representative is responsible for collecting and inventorying the decedent's assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. When it comes to IRAs and life insurance policies, there are a few things to keep in mind.
IRA & Life Insurance with a Named Beneficiary
If a person has named a beneficiary on their IRA or life insurance policy, those assets will not be part of the probate estate. This is because the named beneficiary has already been designated to receive those assets, and they will not go through probate.
For example, let's say John Doe has an IRA with his wife, Jane, as the named beneficiary. If John dies, Jane will need to provide the death certificate to the IRA provider, and she will be able to access the account. The same is true for life insurance policies.
IRA & Life Insurance without a Named Beneficiary
Assets will become part of the probate estate if a person does not have a named beneficiary on their IRA or life insurance policy. The personal representative will need to inventory those assets and distribute them according to the decedent's will or Florida's intestate succession laws.
For example, let's say John Doe has an IRA but has not named a beneficiary. If John dies, his IRA will become part of his probate estate and will be distributed according to his will or Florida's intestate succession laws.
Commonly Asked Questions
How can I ensure my estate is transferred to my heirs most efficiently?
The best way to ensure that your assets are transferred to your heirs most efficiently is to name a beneficiary on your IRA and life insurance policy. As explained above, if you do not have a named beneficiary, those assets will become part of your probate estate and will be distributed according to your will or Florida's intestate succession laws.
Will a living trust help avoid probate if I have named beneficiaries of my retirement accounts and life insurance policies?
Yes, provided your assets are titled in the name of the trust. This is an important step that people overlook after creating a trust. You must put assets into it. Homes, banks, and brokerage accounts can all be owned in the name of the trust. If you create a trust, you will generally also create a will at the same time, and the will should contain a “pour over” provision that transfers any probate assets you forgot to put in the trust into the trust after your death.
How Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A. Can Help
If you are named as the personal representative of an estate, our firm can help you with all aspects of the probate process. We can help you inventory the assets, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
Contact our experienced team today through our website or call us at (800) 776-3103 to schedule your consultation!