What Assets are Subject to Probate in California?

Assets involved in probate are generally divided into two categories: intangible and tangible assets.

Posted on October 3, 2021 by Alex Gauthier
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Personal or real estate property legally owned by an individual at the time of their death is considered an asset that’s subject to California probate laws. Assets involved in probate are generally divided into two categories: intangible and tangible assets.

Tangible assets include homes, vehicles, boats, valuable jewelry and various household items that can be liquidated for cash. Intangible assets usually refer to assets without physical substance, and can include savings and checking accounts, business interests, stocks and other items that cannot be immediately liquidated for cash.

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What assets are subject to probate?

When someone dies, their estate executor will need to compile a list of the estate’s assets and evaluate their worth. That information then must be submitted to the probate court. The list of assets, both tangible and intangible, that are subject to probate include:

  • Bank and investment accounts
  • Insurance policies other than life insurances
  • The contents of safe deposit boxes
  • Jewelry and decorative items
  • Artwork
  • Furniture
  • Real estate and property deeds
  • Vehicles, boats, airplanes
  • Electronics such as laptops, TVs, and sound systems.

What are Non-probate Assets?

Certain assets owned by a deceased person do not need to go through probate. The most common non-probate asset is jointly owned real estate. For example if a deceased individual co-owns a house with another person, that person is entitled to the "right of survivorship" (sole ownership of the house) once the individual dies.

Other non-probate assets include life insurance policies, jointly held bank accounts, or retirement accounts that have beneficiaries.