What does “estate” mean?

When you die, the interests you have in all your property—real and movable—become your estate, unless it is governed by “right of survivorship,” which American law recognizes.

For example, you and your spouse may own your home with a right of survivorship. If you die, your interest in the home will automatically transfer to your surviving spouse.

Also, the person you selected as the survivor beneficiary for a retirement account or insurance policy will receive those benefits automatically upon your death.

You may elect a right of survivorship for bank accounts. When you pass away, the bank account balance passes automatically to the joint owner of the bank account.

This means that any property owned with a right of survivorship will not go to your estate. The property or its benefits will go directly to the selected survivor.

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