Property That Is Not Subject to Probate
Property that is titled in your individual name must be probated when you are gone because you are not available to sign your name to transfer the title to your family. The easiest way to understand this concept is to learn what property is not subject to probate.
The following property is not subject to probate:
Property you owned in joint name with another person or persons
Life insurance proceeds, as long as the estate is not named beneficiary
IRAs, as long as the estate is not named beneficiary
Other retirement plans, as long as the estate is not named beneficiary
Annuities, as long as the estate is not named beneficiary
Assets held in trust, as long as the estate is not named beneficiary of the trust
Accounts that pay on death to a named beneficiary
These properties are not subject to probate even if you have a will because they either pass automatically to a surviving joint tenant or the property is distributed according to a beneficiary election you made while you were alive.
It is a good idea to have every company with whom you have insurance, retirement accounts, or annuities send you a confirmation of your beneficiary election to be certain they are directed as you wish. These choices could have been made many years ago and may have been forgotten or are no longer applicable.
To sum up: if all your property is owned in joint name with at least one surviving joint tenant; your property is held in trust; or you have life insurance, retirement accounts, or annuities, there is no property that is subject to probate. If your creditors are paid and you have no minor children, there will be no probate.