What Assets Are Subject to Probate?

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Estate Planning Lawyer

When a person passes away, there is a high chance that–whether or not that person prepared a will that outlines how and where they want their assets distributed–those assets will go through probate.

What Is Probate?

Probate is, to put it simply, the state’s process of transferring the assets of the decedent to their living heirs after paying off debts and ensuring that the will is valid. Property that will go through probate is commonly called the probate estate. The executor, who is named in the will of the decedent, is responsible for opening a case in probate court and seeing it through to its conclusion. If the decedent did not leave a will, then the probate court will appoint someone to serve as executor. Then the process of authenticating the will and distributing the deceased’s assets begins. The entire process is meant to carry out the decedent’s last wishes, but it can also be a lengthy and expensive one.

Wondering whether or not your assets or the assets of your loved one will have to go through probate? Here are some common assets that are subject to probate:

  • Tenants-In-Common Property

Tenant-in-common assets are property that are titled in the decedent’s name as well as another person’s. That means that each owner has a percentage interest in the property. Real estate that is owned by unmarried owners is often titled this way, but bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks, bonds, and even vehicles may also be titled this way. This is different from a piece of property that is held by joint tenants or a property that has rights of survivorship. When a property has rights of survivorship, the property avoids probate because the title is transferred upon death.

  • Assets Left Outside of a Trust

When trying to avoid probate, one may establish a living trust in which they place their assets. The assets placed in the trust will not go through probate, but any assets that the decedent neglected to put into the trust are fair game.

  • Beneficiary Assets with Predeceased Beneficiaries or No Designated Beneficiaries

It is possible to name beneficiaries or designate people to inherit assets payable-on-death for bank accounts, savings accounts, life insurance, IRAs, or 401Ks, but those assets still have a chance to go into probate if those beneficiaries die before the owner. If this occurs, the asset will go back into the original owner’s name and become part of the probate estate. If the decedent fails to name any beneficiaries or if they name their estate as the beneficiary of their assets, those assets will also go through probate.

  • Individual Assets

Individual assets are assets that are titled in solely in the deceased’s name. These assets do not have co-owners, are not payable-on-death, and have no beneficiary designations. Common individual assets include: stocks, bonds, vehicles, business interests, bank accounts, artwork, memorabilia, electronics, and real estate.

Probate can be a lengthy and confusing process, which is why a probate lawyer Sacramento, CA offers can be helpful to walk with you every step of the way. Call a law firm today.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at the Yee Law Group for their knowledge about probate.