Not all property passes through probate after someone dies. Whether a probate case needs to be opened depends on the type of property left by the person who died. Generally, any property that was owned only by the person who died and that does not fit a legal exception must go through probate. This property makes up the decedent’s “probate estate.”
Property That Does Not Pass Through Probate
Some important examples of property that does not go through probate include:
- Property owned with other people. If a person owns property with other people, the other owners may get the decedent’s ownership shares in the property without going through the probate process. This includes joint bank accounts.
- Property owned with a spouse. If a person owns a home or other property with a spouse as tenants in the entirety, the surviving spouse owns the property after the first spouse dies.
- Bank accounts payable on death. Some bank accounts may have a named beneficiary who gets the money in the account when the owner of the account dies. This money passes to the beneficiary outside of the probate process.
- Retirement accounts. Most retirement accounts allow the owner of the account to name a beneficiary. If there is still money in the retirement account at the time of the owner’s death, the money goes to the named beneficiary.
- Life insurance policies. Life insurance policies typically require a named beneficiary. The life insurance proceeds are payable to the beneficiary outside of the probate process.
- Assets in living trusts. Property put into a trust should be distributed by the trustee without the need for probate.
Luna Law Firm Can Help
If you have questions about whether your loved one’s estate needs to go through probate, contact Nathan Luna at Luna Law Firm. Nathan is an experienced probate attorney who will evaluate your case and advise you of all of your legal options. Please call us, or fill out our contact form today to learn more.