What is Probate?

What is probate and when is it required?
We hear so often that when someone dies, their estate must be probated. Basically, what that means is that a state court implements a system to approve how the assets of the deceased are transferred to others.
Every state has different requirements as to what the value of the assets must be before probate is necessary. Generally, these requirements fall between $20,000 to $100,000 in what are termed “probate assets.” In New York State, for example, the probate asset amount is set at $30,000.
So, what are probate assets? Probate assets include a list of the following: assets owned solely by the decedent; any assets the decedent had a share of as a tenant in common or community property, and any life insurance, annuities or retirement assets that had either no beneficiary designation or the estate as the named beneficiary.
Any assets jointly owned with right of survivorship or trust designation will avoid probate. However, consider that even if you have a will, probate will be required if the probate assets value exceeds the state’s dollar threshold amount.