Anything a person owned when he or she passed away may be subject to probate.  Probate is a court-supervised process that entails proving the validity of a will and distributing assets within the decedent’s estate.  Assets may be things like property, bank accounts, life insurance policy, art collections, vehicles, jewelry, and more.  If you need help during the probate process after your loved one passed away, we recommend meeting with one of our attorneys as soon as possible.

There are often four types of assets that may be subject to probate, including the following:

#1 Individual Assets

As a member of our legal team may inform you, individual assets entail all the property that are listed with the decedent’s name without any co-owners.  Examples of individual assets can include investment accounts, bank accounts, bonds, stocks, cars, airplanes, boats, real estate, artwork, memorabilia, and business interests.

#2 Tenants-In-Common Property

Tenants-in-common assets can include property that is titled in the decedent’s name along with one or more individuals.  Every owner has a percentage of interest for the property (such as 50/50, 25/75, 80/20, etc.).  Tenant-in-common titles are often named this way for property that is divided among unmarried owners.

#3 Beneficiary Assets (with Predeceased or No Beneficiary Descriptions)

Assets with payable-on-death or beneficiary designations may have to go through probate, if the beneficiary passed prior to the decedent.  The assets may include things like medical savings accounts, health savings, life insurance, retirement accounts, 401K, IRAs and annuities.  If the named beneficiaries predeceased the decedent, the asset usually diverts back to the estate and becomes part of probate. The same thing may happen if the decedent listed the estate as the beneficiary, or did not name any beneficiaries at all.

#4 Assets Outside of the Trust

A person may establish a living trust and move assets into it for protection. However, this does not absolutely mean that none of his or her property will go through probate after death.  Living trusts can help avoid probate of the property included, but so much time may go by that the person acquired more assets and failed to pass these into the trust as well before passing away.  One of our attorneys may emphasize the importance of updating your trust every few years or as life changes happen, so no assets end up accidentally being left out.

If an estate is small, you may be able to go through a simplified probate process.