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After the difficult experience of losing a spouse, you may be faced with administering his or her estate. Even if your spouse dies owning very little in his or her own name, there are still many tasks that must be carried out. While some assets will transfer to you automatically or without the need for probate court oversight, it is important to understand which assets fall into this category.

4 Situations When Assets Pass to You After Your Spouse’s Death

The following are four examples of assets that transfer to you from your deceased spouse without requiring formal probate proceedings:

  1. The asset was held jointly with a right of survivorship. Common examples are real estate and joint bank accounts. When your spouse dies, assets held in this manner pass to you automatically without further action required.
  2. The asset was held in a revocable trust of which you are the beneficiary. The trust may have been a joint trust, or it could have been an individual trust. Regardless, if you are the beneficiary, the asset transfers to you automatically without further involvement by the probate court or formal probate administration proceedings.
  3. The asset is yours because your spouse named you as the beneficiary in a beneficiary designation form. Only certain types of assets allow for beneficiary designations. Common examples include life insurance policies or retirement accounts. If you are the named beneficiary of these assets, ownership passes to you upon the death of your spouse.
  4. The asset has a “transfer on death” provision. When this provision is in place, the asset passes to you when your spouse dies.

Understanding how to handle each asset during an estate administration is not easy if you have never administered an estate in the past. We are here to help you through this difficult process with patience and compassion. To learn how we have helped other clients in the past, check out our client testimonials page today.


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