What Type Of Assets Go Through Probate?

Video Summary


What type of assets go through probate?


Assets that are titled in the decedent's name alone are the assets that go through a probate proceeding.  Saying it another way, that if you have – the decedent owns assets, and they have a designated beneficiary, those assets don't go through probate.


A prime example of that is a life insurance policy where they designate a beneficiary.  Then that is controlled by that contract, and the money is paid the designated beneficiary.  However, if you have a life insurance policy, you designated a beneficiary, the beneficiary dies before you do, well then that life insurance proceeds would be probated and follow your estate, your will or be probated and go to your designated beneficiaries.


Another example of assets that may be in the decedent's name that don't go through probate is if you set up a savings account that says it's payable on death, or in trust for and you designate to whom you would want that bank account to go to.  And even though the asset is in your name alone at your death, you by contract have designated who would receive the asset.


Also they have a similar designation, as far as a brokerage account.  That's called a TOD account, that's transfer on death.  So if you would designate someone to receive it upon your death, then it would not go through probate.  However, if you have a brokerage account, savings bonds, any kind of stock that are titled just in the decedent's name, then those assets would go through probate.


One of the things that I get many questions on is what about the household furniture and furnishings, and crystal, china, silverware, collectables – all of that is untitled personal property.  And I cannot remember, and I don't believe I've ever handled an estate wherein we had probated the untitled personal property assets.  And that usually the beneficiaries will take care of doing that without going through a probate administration.  Also, I just comment on that to my clients whenever we talk about that, that they can prepare a list and designate who they want to receive certain assets or specifically designate that; but the big question is, is the asset there whenever, you know, the decedent passes away, did they give it away beforehand, or did someone come in, another family member come in and remove it before you arrived and you knew you were supposed to get that.  It's very, very difficult to prove what was there and that you are to be the rightful owner.  I say that this sort of the U-Haul effect, that whoever gets there first with the U-Haul is the winner, and so hopefully you all have a functional family when it comes to untitled personal property that can be distributed amongst the beneficiaries pursuant to the decedent's wishes, or having it distributed equitably as far as all of the parties involved.  It's also problematic with untitled personal property, whenever it has sentimental value.


So the assets that have to be probated are whenever you have a titled asset just in the decedent's name alone.  There are some other exceptions, such as automobiles, that can be transferred without going through a probate proceeding.  So if you have questions about probate, well give me a call at 727-847-2288.