July 3, 2024
July 3, 2024
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What types of assets go through probate?

Probate Process

Understanding Probate: Types of Assets That Undergo the Probate Process

Insight into Probate and Asset Allocation

Probate is a legal procedure that takes place following an individual’s demise to facilitate the distribution of their assets and the settlement of their debts. Throughout probate, various kinds of assets are assessed, valued, and ultimately distributed to heirs and beneficiaries. Nevertheless, not all assets undergo probate. This in-depth guide will delve into the types of assets that typically undergo the probate process and those that do not.

Assets Prone to Probate

1. Real Estate: Real estate owned solely by the deceased often undergoes probate. This encompasses residential properties, undeveloped land, and investment properties. However, if the real estate is jointly owned with survivorship rights or held in a trust, it may bypass probate.

2. Bank Accounts: Individual bank accounts, such as checking and savings accounts, are subject to probate unless they have specified beneficiaries or are jointly held with survivorship rights.

3. Investments: The probate estate typically encompasses stocks, bonds, and other investment assets held solely in the deceased’s name. Nonetheless, investments held in brokerage accounts with transfer-on-death (TOD) or payable-on-death (POD) designations evade probate.

4. Personal Property: Personal possessions, furniture, jewelry, and vehicles are considered part of the probate estate unless they are explicitly addressed in a will or trust.

5. Business Interests: If the deceased owned a business individually, the business interest may be subject to probate. Effective business succession planning can aid in avoiding probate for business assets.

Assets That Typically Bypass Probate

1. Jointly Owned Property: Assets owned jointly with survivorship rights automatically transfer to the surviving joint owner and do not undergo probate. Common instances include jointly owned real estate and bank accounts.

2. Assets with Beneficiary Designations: Certain assets, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts (e.g., IRAs and 401(k)s), and annuities, enable account holders to designate beneficiaries. Upon the account holder’s passing, these assets directly go to the named beneficiaries, circumventing probate.

3. Trust Assets: Assets held in a revocable living trust or irrevocable trust typically avoid probate. The trust document delineates how these assets should be distributed, and the trustee is responsible for executing these directives.

4. Transfer-on-Death (TOD) and Payable-on-Death (POD) Accounts: Bank accounts and investment accounts with TOD or POD designations pass directly to the named beneficiaries upon the account holder’s death, bypassing probate.

5. Community Property with Right of Survivorship: In community property states, assets held as community property with survivorship rights are automatically transferred to the surviving spouse without probate.

Assets Requiring Complex Probate Considerations

1. Debts and Creditors: While not assets in the traditional sense, debts and creditors’ claims are part of the probate process. The executor or personal representative must address these obligations using estate assets.

2. Digital Assets: In the digital era, digital assets such as online accounts, cryptocurrencies, and intellectual property may pose unique challenges in probate. It is crucial to have a strategy for managing and distributing these assets.

3. Out-of-State Property: Real estate situated in another state may necessitate ancillary probate proceedings in that jurisdiction in addition to the primary probate case in the deceased’s home state.

Approaches to Evade Probate

There are several strategies individuals can utilize to reduce the assets that undergo probate:

1. Revocable Living Trust: Establishing a revocable living trust enables individuals to transfer assets into the trust during their lifetime. Upon their passing, the assets held in the trust can be distributed to beneficiaries without undergoing probate.

2. Beneficiary Designations: Ensuring that assets like life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts have current beneficiary designations can assist assets in bypassing probate.

3. Joint Ownership: Co-owning property or assets with survivorship rights can be an effective method to avoid probate, as ownership automatically transfers to the surviving joint owner.

4. Gifts and Transfers: Individuals can gift or transfer assets to heirs during their lifetime, diminishing the size of the probate estate.

Final Thoughts

Comprehending which types of assets undergo probate and which do not is crucial for efficient estate planning. By strategically utilizing trusts, beneficiary designations, and joint ownership, individuals can minimize the intricacies and expenses associated with probate. If you have inquiries about probate or require assistance with estate planning, reach out to the proficient attorneys at Morgan Legal Group in Miami. We are here to guide you through the probate process and safeguard your assets for future generations.

The post What types of assets go through probate? appeared first on morganlegalfl.com.


What Types of Assets Go Through Probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. During probate, the court will oversee the distribution of the decedent’s assets to their beneficiaries. Not all assets go through probate, as some may pass directly to beneficiaries or joint owners outside of the probate process. Understanding which assets go through probate is crucial for estate planning purposes. In this article, we will explore the types of assets that typically go through probate.

Types of Assets That Go Through Probate

  • Real Estate: Properties solely owned by the decedent will go through probate unless they have a designated beneficiary or joint owner with rights of survivorship.
  • Bank Accounts: Bank accounts owned solely by the deceased individual may go through probate unless there is a payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designation.
  • Investment Accounts: Individual investment accounts without beneficiary designations will typically go through probate.
  • Personal Property: Personal belongings and assets such as jewelry, artwork, and vehicles may need to go through probate unless there is a clear transfer plan in place.
  • Business Interests: Any business interests owned solely by the decedent may need to go through probate unless there is a buy-sell agreement or successor already in place.
  • Retirement Accounts: Retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs may pass outside of probate if there are designated beneficiaries, but if not, they could go through probate.
  • Life Insurance Policies: Life insurance proceeds go directly to the named beneficiaries and typically do not pass through probate unless there is no designated beneficiary or the estate is named as the beneficiary.

Benefits of Avoiding Probate

Avoiding probate can have several benefits, including:

  • Speed: Probate can be a lengthy process, so avoiding it can help beneficiaries receive their inheritances faster.
  • Cost: Probate can be expensive, with court fees, attorney fees, and executor fees eating into the estate’s assets. Avoiding probate can save money for the beneficiaries.
  • Privacy: Probate is a public process, so avoiding it can help keep personal and financial information private.

Practical Tips for Avoiding Probate

To avoid probate, individuals can take several steps, including:

  • Establishing a Revocable Living Trust: Assets held in a trust can bypass probate and go directly to beneficiaries.
  • Updating Beneficiary Designations: Ensure all bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies have designated beneficiaries to avoid probate.
  • Joint Ownership: Holding assets jointly with rights of survivorship can help these assets avoid probate.
  • Gift Giving: Giving assets as gifts during one’s lifetime can reduce the assets subject to probate.

Case Studies

Let’s consider two scenarios to illustrate the importance of understanding which assets go through probate:

Scenario Probate Status
John’s Bank Account Probate
Sarah’s Jointly Owned Property Avoids Probate


Understanding which assets go through probate is essential for effective estate planning. By knowing which assets are subject to probate and taking steps to avoid it, individuals can streamline the inheritance process for their loved ones. Consider consulting with an estate planning attorney to develop a comprehensive plan tailored to your specific situation.



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