Most people in New York have heard others talk about probate when discussing wills and inheritances after someone dies. While a commonly experienced process, probate may often be misunderstood. It is important for people to have a sense of what probate is, when it happens and when it does not happen. 

As explained by Dave Ramsey, probate is a process through which a deceased person’s debts are paid and assets are distributed to any heirs. The payment of debts includes the payments of any outstanding taxes as well as money owed to creditors or other entities. If the decedent had a will in place, the probate court will authenticate it prior to executing the instructions therein. 

Some people do not want to have their assets go through a probate process. According to NerdWallet, one reason for this is that the proceedings of a probate action are public. Any person who prefers to keep their business private will want to set other things in place to avoid probate. 

One way to keep assets out of probate court is to create a living trust. Assets can be retitled and named to the trust. The trustee manages the assets during and after a person’s life. Accounts that have beneficiaries are also kept outside of probate as the inheritances from those can be paid directly to the named beneficiaries. Property such as homes may be titled in two people’s names and identified as jointly owned with the right of survivorship. This allows ownership to pass immediately to the surviving party, avoiding the need for probate.