Registering Assets in Beneficiary Form ("Transfers-On-Death")

Nearly any asset can be registered or recorded in beneficiary form.  The advantage of registering an asset in beneficiary form is that the beneficiary may receive the asset without probate or other legal proceeding.  The disadvantage of registration in beneficiary form is that there is no management or control of the asset by a trustee.  Therefore, registering assets in beneficiary form is not appropriate for minor children, or in any situation where management of property is desired.

 

Registering an asset in beneficiary form is sometimes as simple as filling out a form issued by a financial institution.  For other items of property, the documentation may be much more complex.  For example, real estate may be distributed to beneficiaries without probate, but a specialized form of deed is required.

 

The Probate Avoidance Plan is specifically designed to register all assets in beneficiary form.  Our "Guide to Probate Avoidance in Michigan" provides directions to register each type of asset in beneficiary form.  The following is a partial list of assets that may be registered with a beneficiary: 

  • Residential real estate
  • Commercial real estate
  • Savings accounts
  • Checking accounts
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Closely-held corporations
  • Closely-held limited liability companies
  • Bonds
  • Stocks
  • Individual Retirement Accounts
  • 401(K) Accounts
  • Life Insurance
  • Annuities
  • Mutual Funds
  • Brokerage Accounts

Other assets may be delivered to family members without probate provided that a probate proceeding not is not otherwise required for a deceased person's estate.  These items include motor vehicles and personal property.

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