topic | distribute non-probate assets

Step 3: transfer non-probate property and assets

Now that non-probate assets have been identified, they can be distributed. If there is a Personal Property Memorandum, it can be used to determine this distribution. Personal Property may also indicate intended beneficiaries.

Items should be dispersed or sold according to the guidelines of the Will or by the discretion of the executor. If there is a surviving spouse, personal property becomes his or her own. Bring disagreements between beneficiaries to the attention of probate court.

Activity 1
Provide Administrative Support for Real Estate Transactions

  • File a death certificate with the county where real estate is owned. This removes the deceased’s name from county property records, tax bills or correspondence concerning real estate.
  • Remove the name of the deceased from a title, or have a title reissued. The property may also be sold. An original death certificate is required.
  • Real estate covered by a living trust can be re-titled or sold. The successor trustee must make these decisions, and an original death certificate is be required.
  • Other real estate and vehicles do not need to be re-titled. They can be sold in the future as long as an original death certificate is presented.
  • Items with beneficiaries by way of title (e.g. beneficiary deed) are normally not subject to probate. It may be possible for the property to be re-titled or sold. However, these procedures may vary by state. Consider consulting an estate attorney with questions about these procedures.

Activity 2
Verify that Joint Accounts have been Renamed

Property and assets that are jointly owned automatically become the sole property of the surviving owner. Verify that the name of the deceased has been removed from the accounts.

Activity 3
Ensure that Living Trusts are Administered

If there is a living trust, verify that the successor trustee has taken over the administration and distribution of the trust.

Activity 4
Confirm that Beneficiaries Receive Benefits

Accounts such as life insurance policies and 401k plans may have designated beneficiaries. Beneficiaries of these accounts must apply for benefits to be transferred.The funds will be transferred to the beneficiary directly, either through a check or in the form of a new account in the beneficiary’s name.

The executor must initiate the transfer of benefits. They should confirm with the financial institutions or the beneficiaries that the transfer has been completed.

  • The executor must contact financial institutions directly. Request that the appropriate forms be sent to the beneficiary.
  • Provide current contact information for the beneficiary.  Contacts-Family and Contacts-Other may contain this information.
  • Forms must be completed by the beneficiary. An original death certificate may be required to complete the application.

Activity 5
Verify that Transfer on Death or Payable on Death Designees have Received Funds

Transfer on Death (TOD) or Payment on Death (POD) may also have designated beneficiaries. Beneficiaries of these accounts must apply for benefits to be transferred.

The executor must initiate the transfer of benefits. They should confirm with the financial institutions or the beneficiaries that the transfer has been completed.

  • The executor must contact financial institutions directly. Request that the appropriate forms be sent to the beneficiary.
  • Provide current contact information for the beneficiary. Contacts-Family and Contacts-Other may contain this information.
  • Forms must be completed by the beneficiary. An original death certificate may be required to complete the application.




(if this Step is complete)
Continue to
next Topic

Return to Step 2
n/a