Is probate necessary?

In some states, small estates can avoid probate (check your jurisdiction for the definition of a small estate). Otherwise, probate is necessary to determine that a will meets all the applicable legal requirements and to provide all interested parties with an opportunity to be heard. Probate also ensures that the decedent’s property ends up in the right hands and that all just debts (and taxes, of course) are paid.

Most states allow a certain amount of property to bypass probate or get processed through a simplified procedure. This includes a designated monetary amount as well as property left to a surviving spouse.

In addition, property that passes outside of your will is not subject to probate. These include joint survivorship accounts, trusts, life insurance proceeds payable to a designated beneficiary and similar instruments.

Continue Learning about End Of Life Issues

Why are some people uncomfortable making an advance care plan?
Dr. Aruna V. Josyula, MDDr. Aruna V. Josyula, MD
Advance care planning can be a difficult subject to discuss—it’s a deeply personal subject and is ba...
More Answers
How does an executor of a will differ from an administrator?
An executor of a will is the person named in the will to administer the estate. An administrator ser...
More Answers
Why doesn't my doctor discuss end-of-life issues with me?
Anthony CirilloAnthony Cirillo
There are many reasons why doctors aren't having these discussions as often as they should. The conv...
More Answers
What are the physical signs of death?
HealthCare Chaplaincy NetworkHealthCare Chaplaincy Network
Death is a physical process that takes many paths over an unpredictable length of time. Dying people...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.