The primary purpose of an Illinois resident’s will is to distribute property. While that statement may generally be true, there are certain types of property that a will does not distribute. In fact, including some items in this document could complicate probate and cause surviving family members a great deal of consternation, time and money.
Many types of property pass to heirs and beneficiaries outside of a will and without the need for probate. Some of these assets include retirement accounts and life insurance policies. These assets pass to the individual or individuals listed on the beneficiary designation forms that an Illinois resident filled out at some point, usually when the accounts are opened or the policies are purchased. Any attempt to transfer these assets to someone else through a last will and testament will fail since beneficiary designations override the will.
Assets owned with someone else may not have to go through probate either, depending on how they are titled. For instance, real property may not need to be included in a will if it is titled in such a way that the surviving owner automatically receives the other person’s ownership interest in the property. It would be a good idea to review how such property is owned in order to determine whether a person’s interest in it needs to be transferred in the will.
Reviewing how an asset is titled and whether it will automatically pass to a beneficiary upon death is crucial when it comes to estate planning. Anytime a major life event precipitates a change in a will, it may be a good time to review how these types of assets will transfer to make sure that no conflicts occur. Doing so could save surviving family members from spending time sorting out these issues during the probate process.