Are all assets subject to the probate process?

In Washington, probate may be necessary when:

1.      A person dies leaving property in his or her own name (such as a house titled only in the name of the decedent) or having rights to receive property, without a designated beneficiary

2.       The estate is worth over $100,000.

Essentially, the only assets that are subject to probate are those held in Decedent’s name without designated beneficiaries (other than his/her estate) on death.  Below are examples of assets which may be subject to the probate process:

Examples of Probate Assets:

·         Decedent’s property inherited upon the deaths of his/her parents, as his/her separate property.

·         Decedent’s home, as to his/her one-half interest in community property.

·         Decedent’s interest in a vacation home, a boat, or an airplane, as a tenant-in-common with other joint owners.

·         A life insurance policy owned by Decedent on his/her life and whose named beneficiary is the estate.

·         Decedent’s IRA or a Keogh Plan for his/her benefit and whose named beneficiary upon his/her death is his/her estate.

Examples of Nonprobate Assets:

·         Decedent’s car, as a joint tenant (ie, with right of survivorship).

·         Decedent’s bank account, payable on death (“POD”) to one of Decedent’s children.

·         Decedent’s securities account, transferable on death (“TOD”) to Decedent’s Trustee.

·         Property subject to a valid Community Property Agreement, transferable to Decedent’s surviving spouse.

·         A life insurance policy owned by Decedent on his/her life and whose named beneficiary is other than his/her estate (eg, his/her spouse or children).

·         Decedent’s IRA or Keogh Plan for his/her benefit and whose named beneficiary upon his/her death is other than his/her estate (eg, his/her spouse or children).

·         Property held in trust for the benefit of Decedent and whose named beneficiary upon his/her death is other than his/her estate (eg, Decedent’s Revocable Living Trust held for (i) his/her benefit during his/her life and (ii) his/her spouse or children following his/her death).

 

Sources

1.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/probate-faq-29135.html

2.      http://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/the_probate_process.html

3.      http://www.wa-probate.com/Instructions/Probate-FAQ.htm#Whats%20the%20probate%20process,%20simply%20&%20generally

4.      http://statelaws.findlaw.com/washington-law/washington-probate-laws.html

5.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/washington-probate-an-overview.html

6.      http://estate.findlaw.com/probate/the-probate-basics.html