Estate Administration is the process by which a decedent’s total estate, which includes both probate and non-probate assets, is settled. Probate assets are properties that were owned by the decedent that were not owned “jointly” with survivorship rights by another. Non-probate assets are property held in a revocable trust, joint assets, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, annuities, homestead property, automobiles, boats, etc. Some assets do not go through probate but are considered part of the estate for federal estate tax purposes, therefore if an estate is taxable, a Form 706 must be filed.
Real estate, on the other hand, almost always requires some sort of probate or other legal steps to be taken after the owner dies. This is because title to real estate is based upon a “chain of title” in the county records, and title insurers want to be sure exactly who inherited the property without requiring an order of probate court.