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Non-probate assets every executor in California should know about

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | Estate Administration & Probate |

If you have been appointed as the personal representative of someone’s estate, you’re probably wondering whether the entire estate, including property and trusts, will have to go through the probate process.

Some types of assets are subject to probate while others are not.

Here are some of the assets that do not need to pass through a probate court in California

Financial accounts with a beneficiary designation

Some of the most common non-probate assets are financial accounts that have a designated individual beneficiary. These may include retirement accounts, such as IRAs, 401Ks, and life insurance policies. Upon death, the ownership of the retirement accounts will be transferred directly to the named beneficiary without passing through probate. Note that even if the will says something different, the beneficiary designation will hold in most cases. On the other hand, if the IRA has no death beneficiary designation, it will have to go through probate.

Jointly owned real estate

Real estate that is jointly owned sometimes comes with a right of survivorship, which does not need to go through probate. This is what would happen in the case of many married couples’ homes. Property with a transfer on death beneficiary deed could also be transferred without the need for probate when the person dies.

Assets in a trust

If the deceased placed property in a trust, then it is no longer part of their probate estate, so it should not be subject to probate.

The probate process is complex, and it’s important that you know which assets are insulated from the probate process. However, if you’re having trouble identifying probate and non-probate assets, then ensure you seek legal guidance.