I was working with a family earlier this week and they came in because a family member had passed away. The family came in to talk about getting the probate done, or in Louisiana we called it a succession, they called it a probate. A probate is all of that court supervised process of getting things transferred when somebody dies.
We went through all of their assets and we realized that a probate was not even necessary because you may own what is called "probate assets" or you may own some "non-probate assets." Common non-probate assets are assets that when you pass away they don't have to go through the courts to get things transferred. Things like IRA's that have a designated beneficiary, annuities that have a designated beneficiary, life insurance and there are non-titled personal effects that typically don't go through the court process.
They had some assets in a trust, and again if the trust is worded right the courts don't need to oversee the distribution of those assets because they are not frozen. So all of these assets that this family had didn't need to go through the courts because everything they had was a non-probate asset. Now, if you do own a probate asset in your name when you pass away there is a court process including real estate that is in your name, investments that are in your name, those are the kinds of things that will often have to go through the court process to get things transferred.
In conclusion, realize that there are probate assets, non-probate assets, some will have to go through the court process, and some will not have to go through the court process. I'm Paul Rabalalis and if you have some questions, maybe a family member passed away and you don't know what to do about getting assets transferred, we work in all 64 Louisiana parishes. You can call us at our toll free number at 866-491-3884.