What is an Estate? – Common Nuances

When someone passes away, their assets and property become part of their estate. However, not all assets are subject to probate. Here are some common nuances of what assets become part of a person’s probate estate:

  1. Assets held in joint tenancy: Assets that are held in joint tenancy with another person are not subject to probate. This means that if one joint tenant passes away, their share of the asset automatically transfers to the surviving joint tenant.
  2. Assets with designated beneficiaries: Assets such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and payable-on-death bank accounts have designated beneficiaries. These assets will pass directly to the named beneficiaries and will not be subject to probate.
  3. Trust assets: Assets that are held in a trust are not subject to probate. Instead, the trust document will dictate how the assets are distributed.
  4. Small estate exemptions: Some states have small estate exemptions, which allow estates below a certain value to avoid probate altogether.
  5. Business interests: If the decedent owned a business, the value of their interest in the business may be subject to probate. However, if the business has a buy-sell agreement or is structured as a trust, the decedent’s interest may not be subject to probate.

Navigating the nuances of probate can be complex, especially when it comes to determining which assets are part of the probate estate. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help ensure that your assets are properly titled and that your estate plan is structured to minimize the impact of probate on your loved ones.

If you have questions regarding your estate, or the estate of a loved one, contact Chapman Law, PLLC to discuss your situation.

This blog is intended to provide general information and, therefore, should not be treated as legal advice. You should contact a qualified attorney for questions about legal issues.