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What Types Of Assets Are Subject To Probate



The assets subject to the probate administrative process in probate court, or probate assets, are those assets held in solely the decedent's name at the time of his or her death. Probate assets are also those assets that were owned solely by the decedent and that have no provision for an automatic transfer in ownership through succession, once the decedent dies.

What Is Not a Probate Asset?

Assets that are held by the decedent and another party in joint tenancy are not probate assets subject to estate administration proceedings in probate court. Assets with identifiable beneficiaries, like a life insurance policy, are also not probate assets.

Types of Probate Assets

Multiple types of probate assets exist. The common feature of these assets is that they were owned at one time by the decedent and are now part of proceedings in probate court because they comprise the decedent's estate. The aim of the proceedings in probate court is to transfer those assets from the decedent's ownership to that of heirs, as specified by the decedent in his/her will.

  1. Individual assets - This asset type consists of all of the decedent's assets and property that is titled only in the name of the decedent. This type of asset has no other owner or beneficiary who can claim an ownership interest in it. This asset type is also not payable at the decedent's death to anyone. Typical individual assets may include bank accounts, investment accounts, bonds, stocks, cars, boats, planes, business interests and real estate.
  2. Tenant-in-common assets - This is property titled in a decedent's name, as well as in the name of at least another party. The decedent and the other party own the property as tenants in common. Examples of tenant-in-common property are a jointly-held bank account, investment account, stocks, bonds, vehicles, boats, planes, real estate and business interests. This type of property may be excepted from estate administration in probate court if the decedent makes certain preparations and arrangements. For this reason, proper estate planning is extremely important. If the decedent retitles property held as tenants in common in a revocable living trust before death, then the decedent can convert the interest in that particular asset to one that is excluded from probate.
  3. Beneficiary assets - These are assets that are payable at the death of the decedent, such as a health savings account, medical savings account, life estate, retirement account, life insurance policy, or annuity with all of the named beneficiaries predeceasing the decedent. Alternatively, this type of asset could comprise property when the decedent did not name any beneficiary.