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Wills, Probate and Property Ownership

Some myths persist in regard to wills, probate and property ownership. The following are True Statements:

  1. Probate is not a dirty word. It is the court-monitored administration of an estate.
  2. Whether or not one has a will does not affect whether probate will be required.
  3. Property passing according to a will requires probate.
  4. Property passing to heirs by law where decedent did not have a will and did not name beneficiaries on assets re-quires probate.
  5. If a person dies with a will, but with ALL assets going directly to recipients, via joint tenancy or payable on death designations, probate will not be required.
  6. The amount of money a person leaves has nothing to do with whether probate will be required. If one leaves any asset that is solely owned and does not have a beneficiary designation, probate will be required to transfer the asset.
  7. What a will says is irrelevant as to assets that pass directly to a recipients.
  8. Adding joint tenants to assets may create unwanted problems because the added name is an owner of the asset.
  9.  Assets held in a revocable trust still belong to the person who owned the assets. They have not been transferred.
  10. For Medicaid purposes, assets held in a joint account are still owned 100 percent by the person who owned the assets before other names were added.
  11. If a person adds a name to assets, and the added person is sued or divorced, the assets may be jeopardized.
  12. When a person’s name is added to real estate, stocks or mutual funds, a gift has been made, and when the original owner dies, the recipient will have the original owner’s tax basis in the property instead of the date of death stepped-up value.
  13. If a person applies for Medicaid within five years after adding a name to the title of a home, the person may be ineligible for Medicaid.

Attorney Michael A. Pyle, of Pyle, Dellinger & Duz, PLLC. 1655 North Clyde Morris Blvd., Ste. 1, Daytona Beach. Phone: 386.615.9007. E-mail: mikepyle or website: