What is probate? Is probate required?

Think of two words - probation and probate - both are words for court supervision and approval.

Probate (with court approval) is the method of selling or transferring accounts and property, after the owner has died. Probate is a legal process, like divorce, adoption, etc. where the court supervises the transfer of the deceased one’s accounts and property (“the estate”) to creditors and beneficiaries.

Estate Planning (or not) determines how the estate will be settled– probate or not.

Ways to avoid probate:

Joint - right of survivorship
Beneficiary designation
Revocable Living Trust
Spend it ALL

If the Estate does not avoid probate, then the surviving spouse or other family members will need to determine if there is there a valid original Will – valid according to state law (Florida law for Florida residents). If not, there is a procedure for settling intestate estates, i.e. there is no Will.