When someone passes away, their assets and possessions are often called their “estate.” But what exactly is considered part of an estate? This can vary depending on the laws of the state in which the decedent resided, as well as the type of assets and ownership involved. Here’s a closer look at some of the items that are generally considered part of an estate.
Real estate: This includes any real property that the decedent owned, such as a house, condominium, or land. It could also include vacation homes or rental properties.
Personal property: This category includes tangible items that the decedent owned, such as furniture, jewelry, artwork, and collectibles. It also includes vehicles, such as cars, boats, or motorcycles.
Financial assets: This includes bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts. It may also include life insurance policies with a named beneficiary, as well as any stocks or bonds that the person owned.
Business interests: If the decedent owned a business, whether as a sole proprietor, part of a partnership, or a holder of an interest in another type of business, that ownership interest would be considered part of their estate. This could include the business itself, as well as any assets or income associated with it.
Digital assets: In today’s digital age, it’s important to consider any online accounts or digital assets as part of an estate. This could include social media accounts, online bank accounts, and virtual currency.
Intangible assets: These are items that don’t have a physical presence, but still have value. This could include copyrights, trademarks, or patents. It could also include things like membership rewards points or frequent flyer miles.
It’s important to note that not all assets will not be included in an estate for purposes of the probate process. For example, certain types of property may be held jointly with someone else, such as a spouse or domestic partner. In these cases, the property is still included in the estate, however, it will not be subject to probate as it will pass directly to the surviving joint owner.
Additionally, some assets may be protected from being included in an estate through the use of trusts or other estate planning tools. For example, a person may create a trust to hold certain assets, with the intention of those assets being distributed to named beneficiaries after their passing.
Determining what is considered part of an estate can be complex, and it’s important to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney and financial advisor. This is especially true if the person had significant assets or a complex financial situation.
Understanding what part of an estate is also important for the purposes of probate, which is the legal process of settling an estate. During probate, a court will determine the validity of the decedent’s will (if they had one) and ensure that the decedent’s assets are distributed according to his or her wishes or, if there is no will, according to state law.
If you have been named as the executor of an estate, it’s important to understand what assets are included so that you can properly manage and distribute them according to the wishes of the decedent.
Overall, an estate can include a wide range of assets, from real estate and personal property to financial assets and intangible assets. It’s important to understand what is considered part of an estate in order to properly manage and distribute assets according to the wishes of the person who has passed away.