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What happens to assets discovered after the probate process?

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2024 | ESTATE PLANNING - Estate Administration & Probate

Probate is the legal process of distributing a person’s estate after death. A person’s estate will be distributed accordingly to their inheritors if they leave a will or trust. During probate, the designated representative must submit an inventory of the deceased’s assets to the court. But what happens if the family discovers new assets only after the probate process ends? Who will inherit it, and how could you transfer it?

You might not need to go through probate

Not all assets need to go through probate. Upon notifying the court about the newly discovered assets, the court might allow its distribution without reopening the estate. This decision depends on the type and amount of the assets. For example, the surviving family could collect a deceased’s government benefits without probate. You can also automatically transfer property with named beneficiaries, like insurance. The court would also allow passing on real estate without probate if a “transfer on death” clause exists.

You can reopen an estate

Your family must go through the same process again if the court sees that the newly discovered assets need to go through probate. In distributing the assets, the court might follow intestate succession, the process of distributing assets when a person dies without a will. It usually prioritizes the deceased’s spouse, children, or siblings, if they are unmarried.

Discovering new assets after the probate process could be complicated. It may be beneficial to reopen estates if needed under unique circumstances. Families going through the probate process twice could feel lost. Seeking the guidance of competent estate planning attorneys helps ensure that all newly discovered properties go to their rightful owners.