When a close friend or loved one passes away, there are a host of loose ends to finalize. One of the most difficult may be that of settling the estate and ensuring all property and assets get to their intended beneficiaries. Depending on the unique circumstances involved, the case may enter into the probate process as a way transfer property to the beneficiaries and heirs named in the last will and testament. 

Probate is often used in the following conditions: 

  • The deceased’s intentions are not clear and there are questions as to who the beneficiaries are 
  • There are property disputes among heirs in the settlement of the estate 
  • There are significant assets and property in the sole name of the deceased 

Not all cases, however, must go through the probate process. If the estate is worth less than $50,000 and there is not a host of property to divide, family members may separate property without the courts assistance. Another instance may be if the last will and testament is clear and concise, the deceased named an administrator in the will and people are not fighting over property distribution. 

If the property is jointly-owned, it will automatically transfer to the other person on the title. Property left behind in a living trust will also transfer ownership to the person named as a beneficiary of the trust, without having to enter into the probate process. Although the probate process can help in certain situations, it is not always necessary for all cases.