One of the more daunting challenges newcomers to the estate planning process face is learning all the complicated terminology associated with the field. Estate planning lawyers use a number of words and terms on a daily basis that the general public rarely encounters. Take, for instance, the term “probate estate.” This is a commonly encountered word that you need to understand.
After you die, the things you leave behind are no longer your possessions. They exist in a sort of legal limbo where, even though someone may be entitled to inherit them, they do not belong to that person yet. After you die and leave behind possessions the law lumps all of those items together and calls that collection your estate.
Your estate is everything you leave behind, but your probate estate may not include all of those things. Probate is the legal process that applies after you die, and in which the court has to find out who inherits your property. However, probate does not automatically apply to all of your property. Rather, it only applies to specific types of property identified by state probate laws. This property, such as real estate, investments, and personal property, is lumped together into something called a probate estate.
Some property doesn’t have to go through probate. Life insurance benefits, transfer on death accounts, and property you own jointly with other people can pass outside of the probate process. For this reason such property is called non-probate property, and collectively it is known as your non-probate estate.
You can learn a lot more about living trusts at our next free living trust seminar in Port St. Lucie, Florida on Tuesday, May 14. The seminar lasts from 2 PM to 4 PM and will be held at the East Lake Professional Center in Port St. Lucie. Contact our offices for more details and registration information.