Probate Assets: What Assets go through Probate?

Learn about probate assets and how to manage them effectively in estate planning. Explore strategies to safeguard your legacy with WillBox.

  Understanding Probate Assets: What Goes Through Probate? | Estate Planning Guide

As you start planning your estate, you might wonder about the fate of your assets and how you can manage them effectively.

This journey through estate planning is crucial not only for ensuring that your intentions are honored but also for providing clarity and support to your loved ones. By understanding the essentials of probate assets, you will be better equipped to make informed decisions that streamline the process and safeguard your legacy. Let's dive into what assets go through probate and explore how some assets can skillfully avoid this process, ensuring a smoother transition for everyone involved.

What Are Probate Assets?

Probate assets are assets that need to go through the probate process after someone passes away. These assets are typically those solely owned by the deceased without designated beneficiaries. The probate court oversees the distribution of these assets according to the deceased's will or state law if they pass away without a will. Common probate assets include individually owned assets, personal property, tenancy in common property, and assets naming a deceased beneficiary.

1. Individually-Owned Assets

Individually-owned assets are those solely in the deceased's name without any joint ownership or designated beneficiary. Examples include bank accounts, investment accounts, and real estate solely owned by the deceased. Since these assets do not have a joint owner or beneficiary, they must go through probate to be distributed.

2. Personal Property

Personal property includes tangible items like jewelry, vehicles, and household goods. These items are part of the estate and must be probated unless otherwise designated in a trust or transferred through other means.

3. Tenancy in Common Property

Property held as a tenancy in common does not automatically transfer to the surviving co-owner upon death. Instead, the deceased's share of the property must go through probate to be distributed according to their will or state law.

4. Assets Naming a Deceased Beneficiary

Assets such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts that name a deceased beneficiary also need to go through probate. If the primary beneficiary predeceases the owner and no contingent beneficiary is named, the asset becomes part of the probate estate.

What Types of Assets Can Avoid Probate?

Certain assets can avoid the probate process if they are set up correctly. This can save time, money, and stress for the deceased's loved ones. Assets that typically avoid probate include trust assets, assets that name a beneficiary, and jointly owned property.

1. Trust Assets

Assets placed in a trust do not go through probate. Instead, they are managed and distributed according to the terms of the trust. Setting up a trust can ensure a smooth transition of assets and help avoid the delays and costs associated with probate.

2. Assets That Name a Beneficiary

Assets with designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and payable-on-death bank accounts, bypass the probate process. Upon the owner's death, these assets transfer directly to the named beneficiaries, ensuring a swift and efficient transfer.

3. Jointly-Owned Property

Property owned jointly with the right of survivorship automatically transfers to the surviving co-owner(s) upon death, bypassing probate. This includes jointly-owned real estate, bank accounts, and other property forms.

What Happens if You Pass Away Without a Will?

If you pass away without a will, your estate goes through the probate process without a will. This means the state will distribute your assets according to intestacy laws, which may not align with your wishes. Having a will and comprehensive estate planning documents ensures that your assets are distributed according to your preferences.

Digital Inheritance and Documenting Journeys

Modern estate planning involves considering digital Inheritance and documenting Journeys. As our lives become increasingly digital, it's vital to account for online accounts, digital assets, and other electronic records. Using platforms like WillBox helps create a lasting digital legacy, ensuring that your digital footprint is managed and passed on as you wish.

Without proper planning and documenting journeys, your digital assets may face digital death, becoming inaccessible to your heirs. Properly documenting passwords, online accounts, and other digital assets can prevent this. WillBox offers solutions to securely store and manage this information, ensuring your loved ones can access and manage your digital assets.

The Role of an Insurance Policy

An Insurance Policy can also play a significant role in estate planning, providing financial security for your beneficiaries and ensuring certain assets bypass the probate process. Life insurance policies, in particular, can provide immediate funds to cover expenses and support your loved ones.

Secure Storage for Your Estate Planning Documents

Understanding which assets go through probate and which can be avoided is crucial in estate planning. By knowing the different types of probate assets and utilizing tools like trusts and beneficiary designations, you can streamline the process for your loved ones. Effective estate planning goes beyond just having a will; it involves organizing and securing all your important documents and digital assets. This is where visiting can make a significant difference. WillBox is designed to help you manage and store your Estate Planning Documents safely and efficiently, ensuring that everything is in place when your loved ones need it most.

One of the key features of WillBox is its secure storage system. By storing your Estate Planning Documents with WillBox, you ensure that important papers such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney are accessible and protected. This eliminates the risk of documents being lost or damaged over time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Probate Assets

Q1: How can digital assets be included in estate planning?

Digital assets, such as online accounts and digital files, can be included in your estate planning by using Digital Estate Planning tools. These tools help you document and manage your digital footprint, ensuring that your heirs have access to important information. Visiting allows you to securely store passwords and account details, creating a Lasting Digital Legacy.

Q2: What are the benefits of using a trust in estate planning?

Using a trust in estate planning can help avoid probate, provide privacy, and manage assets efficiently. Trusts ensure that assets are distributed according to your wishes without going through the public probate process. This can be especially beneficial for complex estates or for ensuring care for minor children or dependents.

Q3: How can single parents ensure their estate is managed according to their wishes?

Single parents can ensure their estate is managed according to their wishes by creating a single-parent will and using comprehensive estate planning documents. This includes appointing a guardian for minor children, setting up trusts, and using Digital Inheritance tools to manage both physical and digital assets. Proper planning provides peace of mind and security for your children's future.

Q4: How does jointly owned property affect the probate process?

Jointly-owned property with the right of survivorship does not go through the probate process. Instead, it automatically transfers to the surviving co-owner(s) upon death. This includes assets like real estate and bank accounts. Properly structuring ownership can ensure that these assets are transferred seamlessly, avoiding probate and providing immediate access to the surviving owner(s).

Our service

At, we provide a complete digital estate planning service that helps you organize and manage your digital assets, so they can be accessed and transferred by your loved ones after you pass away or become incapacitated. Our service includes creating a digital inventory, determining who will have access, providing instructions on how to manage your assets, and securely storing your digital estate plan.

Subscribe to our service today, and gain peace of mind that your legacy will be protected.