Estate Planning: Non-Probate Transfers

The probate process typically required filing a Will and appointing an executor or administrator, collecting assets, paying bills, filing taxes, distributing property to heirs, and filing a final account. This can be a costly and time consuming process, which is why some people try to avoid probate by having only non-probate assets.

Non-Probate assets can include the following:

  • Bank accounts held in joint tenancy or with payable on death (POD) arrangements established.
  • Real estate that is held in joint tenancy.
  • Life insurance or brokerage accounts that list someone other than the decedent as the beneficiary.
  • Retirement accounts.


By filling out a simple form at your bank, you can name the person you want to inherit the money in your accounts at your death. The person you name to inherit your money in a POD account has no rights to it until you die. Until then, you can continue to spend your money as you please, name a new Beneficiary, or close the account.


In regards to property, joint tenancy basically means co-ownership. Property owned in joint tenancy automatically passes, without probate, to the surviving owner when one owner dies. This is often a good arrangement for couples who own real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, securities or other valuable property together.


Additionally, when you name Beneficiaries on your life insurance policy, the money passes to your Beneficiaries directly, without probate. This allows your beneficiaries to access cash after your death in a relatively short timeframe. When deciding on the amount of Life Insurance you should purchase, consider the following factors.


And lastly, in regards to retirement accounts you can name a Beneficiary for your retirement plan when you first open it, and usually an alternate or secondary beneficiary as well. If you are single, you can choose whomever you wish as your Beneficiary. If you are married, your spouse probably has legal rights to some or all of the funds.


The issues of non-probate transfers in South Carolina can be a tricky one and has serious legal consequences. You should speak with an experienced Greer, South Carolina attorney regarding these issues.

King Law Offices is a full service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day.  We serve the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina.  Call 888-748-KING (5464) today for a free consultation.