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Can you avoid probate when administering an estate?

The probate process in New York is geared to be an orderly process in which the assets of a person who has recently passed away may be legally transferred to the person’s beneficiaries. While this process should be simple, it oftentimes is not. Essentially, disputes may arise over who actually is entitled to these assets, as well as whether other entities may have their legal claims against the deceased satisfied by making a claim against the estate.

Because of the consternation that can come about with the probate process, it is helpful to know what assets do not need to be transferred through probate. This post will highlight a few of them. 

Life insurance proceeds – Most people who pass away in New York have a life insurance policy in place so that loved ones can be compensated for the loss of income that the deceased leaves behind. Distributions from life insurance policies usually do not have to pass through probate because beneficiaries are identified within the policy. So once the insurance company receives notification the policyholder’s death and a death certificate is signed, the assets can be transferred without the need for probate.

Real property held in joint tenancy – When property is titled in this fashion, a person’s interest in property would automatically pass to the other surviving tenant (or the spouse) when the property owner passes away. Again, it is not necessary for property interests to pass through probate in these circumstances.

If you have questions about what other types of property that do not have to pass through probate, an experienced estate administration attorney can help. 

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