State probate of an estate is usually necessary when someone dies and leaves assets of more than $100,000 that do not pass via beneficiary designation, joint tenancy, or if those assets were not held in trust.
State probate will generally be necessary when a decedent:
- Dies with a bank or brokerage account held solely in their name with a value in excess of $100,000;
- Owned real property held solely in their name;
- Owned a life insurance policy with a death benefit over $100,000 in which no beneficiary was named or where the named beneficiary has already died;
- Owned an IRA or other retirement account worth more than $100,000 in which no beneficiary was named or where the named beneficiary has already died.
State probate of an estate is usually not necessary when a decedent:
One of the ways to avoid probate altogether is with a properly funded living trust. Probate is only necessary in the event there are assets held outside of your trust which you did not place title into the name of your trust. Probate would then be necessary using what is called a “pour over will” to get those assets back into your trust.
- Leaves an insurance policy with a death benefit over $100,000 (or even less) payable to a living person;
- Had bank and brokerage accounts held jointly with another living person (the accounts pass automatically to the joint account holder);
- Owned an IRA or other retirement account worth more $100,000 (or less) that named a living person as the beneficiary;
- Owned real property held either in joint tenancy or as community property in which the other owner(s) are still living.
The probate process is usually expensive, complicated, stressful, and lengthy.