What Assets Can Go Through Probate?
Probate is the process of proving a person’s will and distributing their estate to beneficiaries. Learn which assets will pass through probate and which will not.
The probate process is often a lengthy one, and when planning for their estate, many people want to do it in a way that prevents their loved ones from having to go through probate. To do this, it is important that you know which assets must pass through probate, and which ones do not.
Which Assets Must Pass Through Probate?
Any assets that were in the deceased’s name alone pass through probate, except for real estate. During the probate process, the assets will either be distributed to the beneficiaries listed in a person’s will, or if there is no will, the assets are distributed according to Tennessee’s intestacy laws. Some of the most common types of assets that pass through probate include:
- Money in bank accounts in the deceased’s name that do not have an explicit payable-on-death beneficiary
- Stocks, bonds, and money in investments owned solely by the deceased
- Personal property including jewelry, clothes, televisions, household furniture, and vehicles
Real estate is treated differently. Real estate can be made a part of the probate estate under certain circumstances. Otherwise, real estate passes outside of probate to the beneficiaries listed in the will, or if there is no will, it passes to heirs pursuant to Tennessee’s intestacy laws. This applies to real estate owned in the deceased individual’s name along, or they co-own it with someone else as tenants in common – if there is no right of survivorship.
Although this list may make it seem as though everything must pass through probate, that is not true. There are several ways to prevent certain assets from passing through probate, which can make the estate distribution process much easier.
Which Assets Can Avoid Probate?
Assets that are co-owned with another person with right of survivorship, or that have a designated beneficiary may not have to pass through probate. Avoiding probate means these assets can be directly distributed after a person’s death without the need for a judge to determine which beneficiary should receive them. Some of the most common types of assets that can avoid probate include:
- Financial accounts that include a payable-on-death or transfer-on-death document that states the appropriate beneficiary
- Real estate or property that is co-owned as joint tenants with the right survivorship, also known as tenancy by the entirety when the co-owners are married
- Retirement funds or life insurance policies that clearly state a beneficiary
- Any assets that are placed in a revocable trust or a living trust
Upon a person’s death, these assets are directly transferred to the designated beneficiary. Revocable trusts are particularly useful, as any asset can be placed into a trust, which will allow it to avoid probate. During a person’s lifetime, the person can also change the revocable trust in most any manner they see fit.
Contact Judy Oxford, Franklin Attorney, if you are Concerned about Probate
Many people have concerns about avoiding probate. But probate is not a difficult process, and trying to avoid it may not be the simplest route to go. But you should have a Will regardless. I am Judy A. Oxford, Franklin lawyer, and I help people who are considering doing a Will and concerned about probate. I have over 30 years of experience with probate, and I enjoy helping people plan for the future and do so in such a way that makes it easier for their loved ones after they pass. If you need this kind of help, call me today at (615) 791-8511 or contact me online to schedule a free initial consultation and to learn how I can help you and your family.