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Assets Excluded from Probate

Estate Planning Attorneys Assisting Residents of Nashville

Upon an individual’s death, the assets left behind are generally considered part of a probate estate. However, not all assets are included in this estate, and some of them may not be subject to the probate process. The Nashville probate lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC assist beneficiaries and other interested parties with determining the proper distribution of property when issues and concerns arise. If you have questions regarding what is rightfully owed to you or someone else, our estate planning attorneys are available to help you explore the situation and your legal options.

Determining Which Assets Pass Through Probate

In Tennessee, when determining whether probate is appropriate for certain property and assets left behind by a decedent, the determination often depends on the type of asset. Among the assets that absolutely must go through probate are those that were owned solely under the decedent’s name, without a designated beneficiary. However, certain other assets do not need to pass through probate to be distributed. These excluded assets include:

  • Retirement plans, IRAs, and 401Ks that identify a certain individual as the beneficiary. Provided that the estate is not listed as the beneficiary, or the identified individual has not pre-deceased the plan-holder, these accounts will pass on without the involvement of probate proceedings.

  • Life insurance policies identifying specific individuals as beneficiaries.

  • Any account or asset that is designated to “transfer” or be “payable” upon death to a specific person.

  • Assets jointly owned by two individuals, including real property, bank accounts, or vehicles. These include real estate owned by joint tenants that contains the right of survivorship, which will be passed on to the surviving joint tenant.

In Tennessee, probate is necessary for any estate that includes real property or that is valued at over $50,000. When an individual has left a will, the named executor must petition the court within the county where the individual has died in order to open probate proceedings. If no will exists, Tennessee inheritance laws will dictate how the assets will be distributed, giving preferences to any surviving spouses and children. If there is no surviving spouse or child, an individual’s assets will pass on to any surviving parents, siblings, nieces or nephews, or grandparents.

Consult a Dedicated Probate Lawyer in the Nashville Area or Beyond

Because of the complexity and potential conflicts that may be involved in asset distribution upon your or a loved one’s death, it is advisable to take part in careful estate planning measures that may ease those concerns significantly. The Nashville probate attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC can help Tennessee residents with any issue related to end-of-life planning. Our firm proudly represents people throughout Williamson and Davidson Counties, including in East Nashville, Cool Springs, Brentwood, and Hillsboro Village. If you need assistance with a probate matter, contact us online or call us at 615-800-7096 to set up an appointment to find out more about our legal services and how we can help you.