Do I always have to probate a will?
No. Generally, a will should be probated if property, such as a house, was titled in the decedent’s name. However, in cases where the decedent named a beneficiary in a contract or where community property rights are involved or property is in a trust, probate may not be necessary. For example, the following assets can be transferred without probate: (1) community property with a right of survivorship; (2) joint tenancy property with a right of survivorship (such as bank accounts); (3) payable-on-death (POD) accounts, certificates of deposit, savings bonds, and stocks and bonds; (4) survivor benefits from an annuity, IRAs, pensions, retirement plans, and (5) life insurance proceeds. If property is held in trust, the property is distributed according to the terms of the trust rather than under the terms of the will.
Return to top