Potential clients often ask whether it is possible to skip probate when there is a Will. This is a reasonable question because the Will states who should receive the deceased’s money and property. Why then is it necessary to involve the court and deal with the estate administration process?
The answer lies in the legal distinction between “probate” and “non-probate” property. Any property which was titled in the deceased person’s name at the time of passing is considered “probate” property. In all but a few narrow exceptions, property that was titled in the deceased’s is subject to estate administration.
The necessity of probate becomes apparent when it becomes time to retitle or transfer assets. Title to most assets, such as real estate and bank investment accounts, cannot be changed without going through probate. Financial institutions usually will not even discuss the deceased’s accounts without opening probate and appointing a personal representative.
The purpose of the Will is for the deceased to state who receives the property and who will serve as the estate representative. But the existence of a Will does not avoid probate no matter how clear the deceased’s intentions. This is because property that is distributed by a Will is by definition probate property. Otherwise, the deceased would not have the ability to leave the money or property through a Will.
As a probate law firm for estate executors, we help settle estates efficiently and reduce stress. If you know someone faced with a probate process or roadblocks to an estate property sale, please have them contact us for a free evaluation at:
Phone: (215) 918-4242
If you are not quite ready for a consultation, download our probate handbook HERE. We’ll send you helpful probate guides and resources so you know how to handle the estate.