Probate law can be difficult to understand. Let us be your guide.
Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person, specifically resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person’s property. If the decedent did not have a Will, then s/he died “intestate” and the estate will be administered and assets will pass according to state law. If the decedent had a Will, probate confirms the validity of his/her will. Probate protects the instructions of the deceased, confirms the executor as the personal representative of the estate, protects the interests of those who may have claims against the estate, and protects the executor against claims and law suits.
Some of the decedent’s property may never enter probate because it passes directly by beneficiary designation or automatically to a joint owner. Examples include the death proceeds of an insurance policy insuring the decedent or bank account that names a beneficiary or is owned as “payable on death”, and property held as “jointly owned with right of survivorship”. Property held in a living trust also avoids probate.