The most common question I hear from clients is “what are non-probate assets?” The most basic answer is that any asset that designates a beneficiary is most likely a non-probate asset. First, we must understand what are probate assets. Probate assets are any assets titled in the name of the decedent. If an asset is titled in the name of the decedent, then it may be an asset of the Estate.
The second question is does the asset designate a beneficiary? These assets, such as a life insurance policy, retirement account, or paid on death account, most likely designate a beneficiary other than the decedent’s estate, upon the death of the insured or title holder and are non-probate assets.
What about assets held in a trust? Assets held in an irrevocable or revocable trust are not probate assets because they are not titled in the decedent’s name. Although, the decedent may have served as trustee, the trustee is not the owner.
Also, please keep in mind that a bank account with two or more owners are generally held as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Therefore, such accounts are normally not probate assets.
These are some examples of what are non-probate assets. If you have further questions regarding identifying non-probate assets, please seek the advice and counsel of an attorney.
Laura M. Trujillo
Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only. Legal advice is provided only through a formal, written attorney/client agreement.