Assets of a decedent that are subject to the probate process are considered “probate assets.” This can mean money, real property, personal property, and mineral rights. An estate consists of all probate assets held by the decedent at the time of his or her death.
Probate assets are property that do not have a beneficiary designation. Transfer on death accounts and accounts with beneficiary designations are not probate assets. Accounts that are held as JTWROS (joint tenants with rights of survivorship) are not probate assets. These assets will be transferred directly from the bank or financial institution to the beneficiary. Additionally, property that has been moved into a company (such as a limited liability company) or a trust are not probate assets because they are not technically owned by the decedent as of the date of death.
Real property can be a probate asset, depending on how title is held. If a transfer on death deed has been executed, then title to the property transfers to the named beneficiary upon the death of the owner and the property does not go through probate. If there is no transfer on death deed and no co-tenant with rights of survivorship, the real property will be considered a probate asset.
Common Probate Terms in Texas
Here are some commonly used terms in the probate process in Texas and their definitions:
- Administrator: The personal representative of an estate of a decedent, when no will has been admitted to probate
Beneficiary: A person or entity to whom assets are left in a will
Decedent: Individual who has passed away
Estate: The term for the collection of assets the decedent owned as of the date of death
Executor: The personal representative of an estate of the decedent who was designated in the decedent’s will to serve.
Heir: A person who has a right to inherit from an intestate decedent
Intestate decedent: A decedent who passed away leaving a valid will
Inventory: A listing of all probate assets owned by the decedent as of the date of death, along with the claims owed to the estate of the decedent.
Personal representative: The individual appointed by the court to administer the decedent’s estate, pay creditors, and distribute assets. Personal representatives can either be administrators or executors, depending on whether a will was admitted to probate.
Probate: The legal process by which the death of a decedent is recognized and the assets of the decedent are administered and distributed.
Testate decedent: A decedent who passed away leaving a valid will
Testator: A male individual who wrote the will. A female individual is referred to as a “testatrix.”