What are Probate Assets?

by Mo Johnson
(Montclair, VA)

The article above addresses what non-probate assets are. It may seem obvious, but, just for the record, probate assets are everything else. Everything that potentially would have to go through probate to be distributed is a probate asset. The biggest probate asset for most people is their house.

Property can be titled solely, joint or as tenants in common. Solely titled -- "orphan" property that is not titled in the name of another or a beneficiary listed will normally go through probate.

Sometimes even "joint" property could have to go through probate if not specifically "with right of survivorship" -- it depends on law of state.

Property titled as "tenants in common" will normally have to be probated. You can read more about that at who inherits tenant in common property?

However, even with probate assets, there are ways to avoid probate (like living trusts) and various ways to title probate property to avoid probate. Of course there are pros and cons to those options as well -- like joint ownership of a house so I won't get into detail about that here.

Probate assets, as with nonprobate assets are included in the estate for tax purposes. Normally, probate assets are distributed through a will. You can read more about that at Wills in Estate Planning.

Here's more about what is subject to probate.

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