real estate attorney

Which Assets Go Through Probate?

Probate can be a long and expensive process, but some of the factors that determine how long probate will take in Florida are the type and amount of assets that your loved one left behind. Estates that have limited assets may qualify for summary administration, a less expensive and faster form of administering a probate estate. Summary administration is also an option if the deceased passed away more than two years ago.

Whether you’re planning your own estate or you are a personal representative administering someone else’s estate, it’s vital that you know which assets go through probate.

Assets Excluded from Probate

First, we’ll start with assets that do not go through probate.

Property That Does Not Belong to the Estate at the Time of Death

Probate only deals with property that the estate owns at the time of your death that is not automatically transferred upon your death. For example, if you set up a trust and funded the trust with property from your estate, the trust is now the legal owner – not you. Therefore, when you pass, this property is not included in your probate estate. 

Property Owned as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship or Tenants by the Entirety

Another type of property that automatically transfers upon death is property that is owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or tenants by the entirety.

Property titled as joint tenants with rights of survivorship is property that two or more people own together that automatically passes to the surviving owner(s) when one of the other owners dies. The surviving owners receive the deceased person’s share of the estate without having to go through probate.

Property owned as tenants by the entirety is a similar setup, but it is reserved for married couples. When one spouse passes, the surviving spouse becomes the sole and exclusive owner of the property without the need for probate.

These forms of ownership may apply to real property – like your family home – as well as certain types of personal property. For real estate, it’s important that the property’s title is properly transferred to one of these forms of ownership via a deed transfer prior to the deceased passing.

Property that Transfers Pursuant to a P.O.D. or T.O.D. Designation

Various accounts and assets can transfer through a payable-on-death (P.O.D.) or transfer-on-death (T.O.D.) designation, including:

  • Checking accounts
  • Saving accounts
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Other investments

You can also use a beneficiary designation form for other assets, like life insurance proceeds and retirement accounts.

Enhanced Life Estates

An Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Lady Bird Deed lets you continue living in your real property during your life and then automatically passes title to the home to a beneficiary of your choice upon your passing. This type of deed also allows you to have full control over the property while you are still living, including the right to lease, sell, or mortgage the property. A properly structured standard Life Estate Deed also avoids probate, though it does not allow for full control of the property during your lifetime.

So – What’s Left?

Reducing the number and value of assets in your probate estate can help make the probate process smoother. However, there is still property that may go through probate, including any property that is not:

  • Jointly owned
  • Payable-on-death
  • Accompanied by a beneficiary designation
  • Included in a trust

Depending on how you have set up your estate, that could leave considerable assets subject to probate, including:

  • Bank accounts
  • Investments
  • Vehicles, including cars, boats, ATVs, and airplanes
  • Real property
  • Household items
  • Business interests
  • Property owned as tenants in common

An experienced Florida probate and real estate attorney can evaluate your situation and explain the property in your estate that will likely pass through probate. A lawyer can also help you navigate the probate process if you are a personal representative who needs to inventory and safeguard assets that are part of the probate estate.

How Farshchian Law Can Help

Farshchian Law provides comprehensive real estate, title/deed transfer, and probate services to clients throughout the State of Florida. We can help by:

  • Evaluating your situation during a free case review
  • Explaining your legal rights and options
  • Offering you advice about ways to avoid or minimize the probate process
  • Filing legal paperwork
  • Preparing deeds and titles for new owners
  • Issuing title insurance for properties that have been transferred inside or outside the probate process
  • Helping you administer the estate
  • Guiding you through the probate process

Contact Us for a Free and Confidential Consultation

If you would like assistance from a knowledgeable real estate and probate attorney, contact Farshchian Law for help. You can schedule a free consultation by calling us at (800) 604-1871 or emailing us at We provide real estate, probate, and title/closing services throughout the State of Florida.