If I leave my estate to my wife, does it have to go to probate? 27 Answers as of November 01, 2013

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Gottlieb & Goren, P.C.
Gottlieb & Goren, P.C. | Aaron W. Goren
To the extent any particular asset has her name on it as owner or successor owner, no need for probate. Cars can be transferred after death through Secretary of State so long as value less than $60,000. Can also use Trust to avoid Probate.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/1/2013
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
Whether it has to go to probate or not depends on how the assets are titled, rather than to whom they are devised.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 10/31/2013
Christine Sabio Socrates Attorney at Law | Christine Socrates
It depends on how you set up your estate planning. If your will leaves everything you have to your wife and you do nothing further, then you may have to go through probate. You need to make sure that each of your assets are either joint with your wife or have her designated as your beneficiary. You should speak to an estate planning attorney to review your situation and make sure that you are set up to avoid probate at your death, if that is your priority. He/she can also give you other options to protect you, your wife, and your assets should you incur issues such as incompetency, incapacity, illness or other issues. I would be happy to discuss your estate planning needs if you would like.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 10/30/2013
Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
It depends upon the size of the estate and whether you own real property. In a community property state, you can draft a community property agreement and that would void probate of the first to die's estate.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 10/28/2013
Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
There are several ways to avoid probate. Holding property in joint tenancy is one way, although not necessarily recommended. The best way may be a trust. See an estate planning lawyer.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/28/2013
    Law Office of Nathan Wagner
    Law Office of Nathan Wagner | Nathan J. Wagner
    It may have to go to probate. That depends upon how you leave it to her. If you simply create a Will leaving everything to her, the estate will probably have do go through probate. If you use another estate planning method, such as creating a revocable trust, it may not have to go to probate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    If you leave your estate to your wife, via a will, yes your estate will need to go through probate. You may doing a marital living trust to accomplish the same goals without going through probate. Contact an estate planning attorney to assist you with your estate plans.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    No, if the estate is titled as joint tenancy or community property, both of which have right of survivorship.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
    In Maryland, no, one may pass everything to a spouse as non-probate assets, though in general something passing through your will or not through a beneficiary/transfer on death designation is subject to the probate process.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Douglas P. Barnes, A Professional Law Corp.
    Douglas P. Barnes, A Professional Law Corp. | Judith N. Douglass
    California offers a simplified (and less costly) procedure, a Spousal Property Petition. This allows for property to be distributed to a surviving spouse, if certain requirements are met, You should consult with an attorney to see if this process will work for you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    Very likely unless you take action to avoid set up joint accounts or better yet, a living trust.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    Generally no, but if you have property in your name alone she may have to work with the courts to get it transferred into her name. I recommend meeting with an estate planning attorney to discuss your wishes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    It depends how title is held to the assets. I urge you to speak with an estate palling attorney in your area to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/29/2013
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Between spouses, often all the assets are jointly owned with right of survivorship (in the case of real property, as tenants by the entirety). Avoiding probate is not that big a deal in Oregon (don't let California horror stories scare you). But, you can leave everything in survivorship. Make sure that you get everything in joint names (or, with retirement accounts, with your spouse as beneficiary). It's very frustrating, and common, to find one or two small accounts which are not joint, and then there has to be a probate anyway, or small estate affidavit.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
    If you have a will, a probate will be necessary in most states unless its monetary value is under certain amounts. You should have a trust to avoid probate.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    It would depend. If you were married before and/or if you have children not for your wife, your estate would have to go to probate. If there are assets that are titled in your name only you would have to go into probate. Accounts that are in your name only that does not name her as a beneficiary, the account holder may require letters from the court to claim the benefit.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    If it is all community property, probably not. There may be an issue with unpaid creditors and passing title to real estate, but if all of your accounts are held jointly or as community property, it should not be a problem. However, having said that, I suggest you still have a Will and appoint her as your personal representative on the off chance something comes up. If you have children from other relationships, you definitely need the Will.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C.
    Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C. | Donald Scher
    If you want to be sure that your entire estate is inherited by your wife upon your passing, then you must make and sign a valid Last Will and Testament. If you fail to do so, then your estate will go to your heirs "at law." Probate is not required for small estates, under $75,000, she can file an affidavit of small estate with the court, however, the Will is required to avoid any other claimants.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    It depends on how the assets are titled. If assets are in your name alone, then regardless who you leave them to, probate will be necessary. If the assets are in joint names, then probate will not be necessary upon the death of the first spouse.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    Some items of property can pass without probate, but it is not a matter of to whom you leave your estate. If you and your spouse hold title to real estate as joint tenants with right of survivorship, title will automatically vest in the joint tenant upon your death. The same may apply to other assets. If real estate is held in your name only, it can only be transferred to your spouse through probate. It is possible to convey a "Transfer On Death Deed" that will make the transfer automatic upon your death. Again, this is not dependent upon you leaving your estate to your spouse.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    If the estate is extremely small or there is nothing beyond minimal personal possessions (clothing, etc.) and there are no significant debts, the estate does not need to go to probate.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
    Not necessarily. It depends on whether you leave each asset to her via a non-probate mechanism or through your Will. For more information, visit with an attorney specializing in estate planning.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Ben T. Liu Law Office
    Ben T. Liu Law Office | Ben T. Liu
    You can do a trust and/or have all the assets in tenants by the entirety.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Richard J. Keyes Attorney at Law | Richard J. Keyes
    Most husbands and wives own everything in joint names. Therefore, upon the first to die, there is no probate estate and nothing goes through probate. The problem with having everything in joint names is when the second spouse dies. In Missouri, to avoid probate, you can have joint accounts, payable on death designations on accounts (P.O.D.), transfer on death on automobiles (T.O.D.) and beneficiary deeds on real estate in order to avoid probate. See an attorney for more details.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    The Law Office of David L. Leon
    The Law Office of David L. Leon | David L. Leon
    It depends on what you leave her and how you leave it to her. Probate in Texas is not necessarily a bad thing.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/28/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Generally probate can be avoided.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/29/2013
    Attorney At Law | James G. Maguire
    If your wife's name is on the house, and on all of the financial accounts (banks,brokerage accounts, etc.), nothing will have to be done until after both of you are deceased.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 10/28/2013
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