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By: Scott Grossman on September 14th, 2016

How do I know what Property goes through Probate?

The simplest way to determine whether property must go through probate is to ask whether you would need the deceased person’s signature in order to transfer title.

As an example, say your parent had a trust, and their home was put in the name of the trust.  No signature is needed to transfer the home, so that particular property will not need to go through probate.

On the other hand, if your parent dies and the home is simply in his name (e.g. “John Smith, a Single Man”) then the only way to transfer title would be to get his signature, which is impossible if he is deceased.  That property would therefore need to go through probate.

When you’re dealing with property such as bank accounts, IRAs, or brokerage accounts, look at whether a beneficiary designation form was filled out.  If it was, then that property can pass directly to that person or to those people named without going through probate.

(When dealing with the bank or other financial institution, ask, “Is there a beneficiary designation form on file?”)

In many cases, there is a mix of property, some of which would require a signature to transfer and some which would not.  In that case, the property which wouldn’t require a signature is free to pass without probate, while everything else does need to go through probate.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form. A comprehensive overview of California Probate is available here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.