What property goes through probate?
As a general rule, all property owned by a decedent at his/her time of death is part of the “probate estate.” This means that (unless some prior planning has occurred), in order to be legally transferred to a new owner, property must be administered through the court. This includes all of the following items:
1. All property transferred by a valid will (please note: simply having a will does notavoid probate)
2. All property not indicated in a will
3. All proceeds from accounts or insurance policies transferred to “the estate of” or to beneficiaries that have died prior to the decedent
4. All types of property (real estate, bank accounts, personal tangible property, stock, investments, etc., etc.)
Probate is an entirely avoidable event. The process is typically undesirable due its time, expense and administrative requirements. Proper planning, through various methods, can remove all assets from the probate estate, allow for a smooth transfer of a decedent’s property and assure that family goals and intentions are squarely met.