Posted on December 7, 2018

What is Controlled by the Will?

It may be easier to answer this question by stating what isn’t controlled by the will.  Any assets that automatically pass to someone else are not controlled by the will. So, if there is a beneficiary on an account the account will pass to the beneficiary outside of the will.  If there is a co-owner on an account, usually the co-owner will take ownership of the account when the other co-owner dies (although that doesn’t always happen – it depends on what type of co-owners they are – but most of the time the account passes to the co-owner).  Co-owners can be on financial accounts or real estate. Accounts are controlled by the account agreement and real estate is controlled by the deed. Any assets owned by the decedent that don’t have beneficiaries or co-owners are called probate assets and controlled by the will.  Think of the will as a backstop – it catches anything that reaches it but doesn’t control things that don’t get to it.

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