Can I Choose Who Gets My Assets Without a Will?
There are a variety of ways you can transfer assets at your death outside of a will. Even if you have a comprehensive estate plan, you may want to make sure some assets transfer automatically, so things like final expenses and bills of your estate can be taken care of while waiting for the probate process to be complete.
Proceeds from life insurance policies and retirement benefits will be distributed to whatever individuals you have designated as beneficiaries. You can change your beneficiaries usually at any time, without the assistance of a lawyer. It is important that you review and update these designations from time to time, whether or not you update your will.
In addition, property held in certain joint tenancies with a right of survivorship (e.g. joint bank or brokerage accounts with a right of survivorship, or real estate you own jointly with your spouse) will pass automatically. Remember, however, these assets still count in determining whether you will owe estate tax.
Finally, if you put assets into a revocable living trust, those assets will pass according to the trust and not through probate or a will.
Learn more here about non probate assets.
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