Generally speaking, a probate proceeding will take place in the state, city or locality where the decedent lived at the time of death. In some cases, a probate case may need to be opened in multiple locations if an individual owned tangible assets such as homes, cars or businesses in multiple states such as Colorado and New Mexico.
What qualifies as a tangible asset?
A tangible asset is anything that you could physically see, touch or move. Therefore, the money inside of a retirement account isn’t considered to be a physical item because the account itself is thought of as an intangible asset. If you didn’t own any physical property in another part of the country, it may be possible to probate all of your assets in a single proceeding.
Is probate legally required?
In some states, there is no legal requirement to probate an estate. Furthermore, estates that meet certain criteria may be allowed to be settled through a streamlined process outside of court. An estate administration attorney may be able to help you learn more about probate rules in any state or county where you live or own property.
Consider putting assets into a trust
Most assets that are placed into a trust are not subject to probate because they are held outside of your estate. Therefore, if you’re looking to bypass this process entirely, it may be a good idea to place a business, car or home into a living trust.
It’s worth noting that your spouse may take ownership of your 401(k), a marital home or other property upon your death. Furthermore, life insurance policies, bank accounts and other items may pass per the terms of a beneficiary designation. Therefore, it is unlikely that these items would be subject to probate even if you failed to create a trust.
Creating an estate plan may be an ideal way to ensure that your final wishes are carried out upon your passing. An attorney might be able to help you create a will, trust or other type of plan document.