Some myths persist in regard to wills, probate and property ownership. Therefore, probate lawyers want you to know the following are TRUE STATEMENTS:
- Probate is not a dirty word. It is the court-monitored administration of an estate.
- Whether or not one has a will does not affect whether probate will be required.
- Property passing according to a will requires probate.
- Property passing to heirs at law where decedent did not have a will and did not name beneficiaries on assets requires probate.
- If a person dies with a will, but with ALL assets going directly to recipients, via joint tenancy or payable on death designations, probate will not be required.
- The amount of money a person leaves has nothing to do with whether probate will be required. If one leaves any asset that is solely owned and does not have a beneficiary designation, probate will be required to transfer the asset.
- What a will says is irrelevant as to assets that pass directly to recipients.
- Adding joint tenants to assets may create unwanted problems because the added name is an owner of the asset.
- Assets held in a revocable trust still belong to the person who owned the assets. They have not been transferred.
- For Medicaid purposes, assets held in a joint account are still owned 100% by the person who owned the assets before other names were added.
- If a person adds a name to assets, and the added person is sued or divorced, the assets may be jeopardized.
- When a person’s name is added to real estate, stocks or mutual funds, a gift has been made, and when the original owner dies, the recipient will have the original owner’s tax basis in the property instead of the date of death stepped-up value.
- If a person applies for Medicaid within five years after adding a name to the title of a home, the person may be ineligible for Medicaid.
We hope this list helped, and if you ever need more legal assistance, please don’t hesitate to visit the Pyle & Dellinger blog.