Handling retirement accounts during probate

Settling a person’s final affairs after his or her passing can be a difficult experience. Those individuals close to the decedent may have many questions about what will happen to remaining assets and other factors associated with the estate. Typically, probate will focus on handling these remaining affairs, but not every asset has to go through probate.

Some California residents may be particularly interested in whether retirement accounts have to go through probate. When it comes to these accounts, it can depend on the decedent’s planning as to whether probate is required. Typically, retirement accounts are payable or transfer on death accounts, which means that they will pass directly to a named beneficiary rather than being subject to probate. However, if the account holder did not designate a beneficiary, the account will have to go through the legal process before distribution.

Typically, individuals are given the opportunity to name their beneficiaries when they open their accounts. Of course, some parties may skip this step with the intention of coming back and appointing a person later. In some cases, parties may forget to go back to this step, which could lead to probate issues.

Most people want the probate process to be completed as quickly as possible. Settling these final affairs can often allow surviving loved ones to feel as if their family members are at rest and as if they can work toward moving on. It can be difficult to understand which assets go through this legal process and which do not, so concerned California residents may want to have their questions answered by experienced attorneys.