Non-Probate Assets: Property which passes to another person by the terms of the instrument under which it is held or by operation of law.
Non-probate assets do not require the estate to be opened. Trusts are the most common non-probate asset, as they transfer to another person by law, without any action needed. Although trusts are the most common form of non-probate assets, there are many others which may be applicable to the decedent’s estate.
There are several types of non-probate assets, mainly those that will pass through a contract once the co-owner dies. Non-probate assets include any asset that is “co-owned,” or an asset that names a beneficiary in the original contract, allowing it to bypass the probate and estate administration process.
Some of the most common forms of non-probate assets are:
- Property or a house owned as a joint tenant or tenant by the entirety
- Joint bank accounts
- Most retirement accounts (most will give the owner an option to name a beneficiary in the contract)
- Life insurance polices
- Any other account that lists a person other than the decedent as the beneficiary
- Any property that is not located in Maryland but owned by the decedent