When a loved one dies, one of the duties that falls on those who are left behind is determining what must be done with the assets of the person who died. In some cases, such as when the assets have a higher value, the family members might have to go through the probate process. This process is often costly and can prevent the heirs from getting their rightful property quickly.
Some people want to know how they can avoid the time consuming and sometimes expensive probate process. The shortest answer is that you can if the case meets certain criteria.
Assets that are jointly owned can typically avoid probate. This is because the right of survivorship says that the property will go to the owner who is still living. This would likely be the case for the marital home and similar property.
Another type of asset that can bypass probate is revocable living trusts. Since the property that is held in this type of trust is no longer the asset of the person who passed away, it simply moves to the owner who was named in the trust.
Accounts that have a payable on death designation won't have to go through probate. This can include bank accounts and other financial accounts. It can also include retirement accounts.
Finally, assets that the decedent gave away before death don't have to go through probate. This set of probate passing assets does have some special concerns, such as gift taxes, so think about those if you are dealing with them.
While you might have to go through probate for some assets, knowing that these should be available quickly might help you as you cope with the impact of your loved one's death.
Source: FindLaw, "Avoiding the Probate Process," accessed June 09, 2017