Assets Not Subject to Probate

Not all types of assets owned by a person will enter into the probate process after death. If your loved one dies and does not leave behind a will, it can be hard for you to know where assets should go. When you are dealing with probate without a will, there are some valuables protected through other means. For those who are the executor of the will, it is important to learn about these assets as it could influence your decisions including whether or not to sell house and property or pass it along.

Investment Accounts 
In some situations, investment accounts can be the prime way to pass funds from one generation to the next without having to worry about probate. For example, if you have a 401k or an IRA, the funds within those accounts go directly to the named beneficiary on your policy. These funds do not impact any probate decisions and cannot be used to repay the debts a person leaves behind after death.

Insurance Policies
Another important tool is a life insurance policy. Probate without a will is tough and a long road. However, when you have a life insurance policy, there is no delay. The funds from a life insurance policy can be sent to the named beneficiary right away. These funds are never a part of the probate process and never impact the decisions made by the court. In other words, life insurance policies allow people to leave behind money to a specific person or a group of people that never face estate taxes or probate.


A trust is a powerful tool for avoiding probate. In fact, it can speed up the probate house sale process. If you ask questions like, “Can you sell an inherited property before probate?” the answer is yes if the property is within a trust. The trust acts as its own legal party. That means the trust’s assets – which can include a significant amount of money – can avoid probate. This allows people to protect assets for the next generation and reduces the risk that an estate can be hit twice when each spouse dies. Can you sell a house in probate if it is in a trust? Most often, the answer is yes.

Assets with Joint Ownership with Right to Survivorship 

This is also when the probate house sale process gets tough. If property is owned by two people (through joint ownership) and they have the right to survivorship, that means the assets are protected when one of the owners dies. The other owner does not lose his or her property as a result of the death. That’s important for investments and for spouses in some states. It also plays a role in decisions about the sale of property. Can you sell a house with joint ownership and right to survivorship before probate? Generally, the answer is yes. State laws, though, tend to play a big part of this decision.

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Check out more of our information on probate.

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