Obtain a better understanding of common estate-planning and probate situations.

What is probate?

Not all assets must go through probate. "Probate property" is property that must go through probate court (more on probate court later). In general, if property is in your name only, it is considered probate property. Let's look at different types of property and how they would be distributed after your death:

 

Car in your name only

Must go through probate when the vehicle is sold. Plus, in order to be able to issue a policy on the vehicle, your insurance agent probably will want the vehicle registered in your heir’s name. 

Home owned as joint tenant with your spouse

Does not go through probate.

Family cabin owned as tenant in common with your three siblings, with each sibling having an equal share

Your one-quarter share of the cabin must go through probate, should your siblings decide to sell the cabin. To reduce the need to track down your heirs later, it is wise to go through probate sooner rather than later. 

Home owned in your name only

This is probate property. It cannot be sold without a probate court proceeding resulting the granting of authority to your personal representative to sell the home. 

Your rare coin collection

Requires a probate court proceeding.