Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
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Certain assets pass outside probate and thus are not governed by the will and thus do not require probate and are not under the control of the executor. These include the following: i) joint brokerage and bank accounts which vest automatically in the surviving owner upon the death of one owner; ii) real property held as joint tenants or tenants by the entirety, which also vest automatically in the surviving owner upon the death of one owner; and iii) assets with designated beneficiaries other than the estate such as life insurance and retirement accounts. The assets you reference all fall within the foregoing and pass automatically. The designated beneficiaries need simply provide a copy of the death certificate and complete an application that will substantiate that the beneficiaries are who they say they are. The executor is not involved, and these assets are neither under his control nor subject to debts of the estate.
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