non-probate assets

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Non-probate assets are assets in which the title has already been transferred within a decedent’s lifetime, or assets in which the transfer of title is controlled by some sort of survivorship mechanism. The property may pass to another party by way of contract or some other arrangement.

Under trusts and estates law, these assets are not probated, meaning that they are not distributed according to the decedent’s will in probate court. As a result, non-probate assets are not subject to creditors’ claims. Despite not being part of the probate estate, these assets are part of the estate for purposes of inheritance taxes or estate taxes

Common examples of non-probate assets are life insurance proceeds, jointly-held property, will substitutes, and inter vivos trusts.

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]