Q: Will I have to deal with probate court?
I am an only child, my father is not married and has a will. Both our names are on the deed to his house (money still owed on his home), I am designated beneficiary on his life insurance. As well as beneficiary upon death on his bank accounts. His bank accounts are fairly large, over $100,000. I was told that the only thing to keep me safe from dealing with probate is a living trust. And if the money is spent to do a trust I would be executor and beneficiary, which I already am in the will. I have researched this and am still not quite clear on if I will have to deal with probate once he passes.
A: The real issue is creditors, since you are an only child. Are you on the mortgage, then that doesn't need to be probated. The life insurance does not need to be probated. The bank accounts are a different issue. It depends. What you really want on the bank accounts is to be the person on a POD (pay-on death) assignment, not a beneficiary. You can check with the bank and ask if they will need a probate court order to receive the money from the accounts if you are the beneficiary, or a death certificate by itself will be enough. If yo are not not he mortgage, then you will most likely have to go through probate for the house. In my opinion, I would create two RLTs (revocable living trusts). One for each of the bank accounts, with your father being the grantor and trustee, and you as the beneficiary. This will also hide the transfer of the money from prying eyes. The house is a little more complex because of the mortgage. Most mortgage companies will require you to refinance to put it into trust, which most times is more costly than it is beneficial. In my opinion, you are almost better off leaving the house as part of the will, and handling it through probate. It should be simple given no other outstanding debt. Happy to help with the trusts and any question. It is not an expensive endeavor. 918-884-7791 Boeheim Freeman Law.
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