What possessions are art of a probate estate?

My dad was a police officer. The pistol that he carried as a patrolman was to be handed down to me, as told to me by family members and friends of his. However, I was told that it had to be counted by the estate as property. The gun is supposed to be handed down in the family and I am the only blood child out of my dad. As far as anyone knows, I am the only child. I do have stepsisters and brothers. I am in the Will as equal parts of the whole estate. Can they use the gun as part of the estate? The gun was bought by him in the 1970’s.

Asked on June 30, 2017 under Estate Planning, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

EVERYTHING he owned which was not jointly titled with someone else (with right of survivorship), like real estate or bank accounts owned in that way, is part of his estate; a decedent's estate is made up of everything he or she possessed which did not pass to others outside of probate, such as via joint title or through a previously set up irrevocable trust. Therefore, the gun is part of the estate; any oral discussions that you would get it are irrelevant, since only a properly executed (or signed) and witnessed written will controls what happens to property after someone dies. Of course, if ou are his only child (stepchildren don't count for this purpose, unless specifically left something in a will), if he does  not have a currently surviving spouse, it will go to you anyway, albeit after probate.


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