Probate is not necessary for many items of personal property. For example:
- There are many assets such as life insurance proceeds, IRAs, pension plans and retirement accounts that pass outside the will to beneficiaries named by the decedent.
- Additionally, property held by the decedent and others as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, such as bank accounts and certificates of deposit, pass outside the will directly to the survivor.
- Finally, property held in trust will pass under the terms of the trust rather than the terms of a the decedent’s will.
However, when ownership of the decedent’s property is evidenced by title, that property cannot be sold or transferred until the decedent’s name is removed from the title. Probate records become a link in the chain of title, demonstrating that the decedent’s property has passed to someone else.