Generally speaking, anything that is titled in your own name is considered to be a part of your estate. Estate assets could include physical items such as a Pennsylvania home or digital items such as shares of stock. Let’s take a look at what happens to estate assets at the time of your death and what you can do to protect them during and after your lifetime.
What happens to assets in your estate after you pass?
In most cases, anything that is held in your estate after you die is distributed to family members in accordance with state law. If you have a will, it may be possible to stipulate that your property goes to a friend, colleague or anyone else who you think would make use of it.
Creditors may be able to make claims against your estate
It’s important to note that creditors may be able to make claims against your estate if you have unpaid debt balances when you die. In some cases, it may also be possible for creditors to make claims against your estate while you are still alive. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to take an active approach to estate planning to minimize the risk that assets will be seized before they are transferred to your heirs.
How can you protect your assets?
Putting assets into a trust may be an effective way to retain control of them while keeping them out of reach of outside parties. When titled properly, items held in a trust are considered to be outside of your estate. Therefore, they generally cannot be seized by creditors, taken in a divorce or otherwise distributed without your permission.
Anything that you own in your own name could theoretically be subject to state intestacy or probate laws after you die. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to check your will, create a trust or take other steps to help ensure that your final wishes will be honored in a timely manner.