What is probate?

Probate is the process by which assets are transferred from a deceased individual to his or her beneficiaries. Assets included in the probate process are: assets titled solely in the name of the deceased; assets held as tenants in common (as opposed to joint tenants with rights of survivorship or tenants by the entirety); and assets that are payable directly to one’s estate.

Assets held in a properly funded and drafted trust will not go through the probate process, but instead will be disposed of as provided in the trust agreement. However, placing assets in a trust, which must be done in order to make the trust effective, does not necessarily remove assets from the gross estate. It does remove assets from the probate estate.