Probate is the Court-supervised process of identifying and collecting the assets of a decedent, paying the decedent's debts, and distributing the balance to the decedent's beneficiaries. Assets are distributed to beneficiaries in accordance to the instructions written in the decedent's will. Even if there are no assets subject to probate, the original Will and a death certificate need to be filed with the probate court in the county where the decedent died.
Not all assets require probate. Probate administration only applies to probate assets. What are probate assets? Probate assets are the assets that were owned solely by the decedent at the time of death. If the asset had a joint tenant with a survivorship interest or a designated beneficiary, then the asset will not be subject to probate administration.
Some examples of assets that are not
subject to probate are:life insurance policy with a spouse designated as beneficiary;
bank account that pays on death to a child;
real property owned jointly with right of survivorship;
property owned in the name of a trust.
If your estate planning is by a Will
, your beneficiaries will be required to go through probate administration. If your estate planning is by a Trust
, your assets will be titled to the Trust. Without ownership of your assets at the time of death, your beneficiaries will avoid probate.
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