Where Do Your Assets Go When You Die?
Updated: Mar 18, 2019
Over time, you will accumulate real estate, personal items and financial accounts. These items are your “assets.” An asset is anything that has a monetary value. Your assets can include things like personal property, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, and real estate. If a specific asset is not mentioned in your Will, then where does it go? Or, if you do not have a Will, what happens to it?
Where your asset goes when you die depends on who is titled on the asset and whether or not a beneficiary is listed. Consider the following situations:
If an asset is in your sole name and has no beneficiary listed, then the asset is included in your “estate.” Your estate is the total net worth of your money, personal property, and real property. If you have a Will, then your estate is distributed as laid out in your Will. If you do not have a Will, then your estate is distributed according to the laws of intestacy.
If an asset is in your sole name and lists a beneficiary, then the asset goes to the listed beneficiary(ies). Beneficiary designations take precedence over the contents of your Will.
If an asset is in your name and a joint owner with rights of survivorship, then the asset goes to the joint owner. Joint ownership also takes precedence over the contents of your Will.
If an asset is titled in your Trust and has no beneficiary, then the asset goes to the Trust account, per the Trust.