What Property Must Go 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 not avoid 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.)

Timely planning can avoid probate. When we work with families and individuals, one common central goal is to avoid probate while creating a simplified and smooth process for transferring property upon death.