There are cases where property passes automatically to someone else upon death, and other cases where the property didn’t actually belong to the deceased at the time of death. Obviously, these are not part of the probate process.
A probated property is any property the decedent owned in his or her sole name, or that is payable to the estate.
Anything owned solely by the decedent typically enters into probate, For example, if a house, car, RV, and bank account are all in the name of the deceased, those properties are included in the probate estate.
Payable to the Estate
An example of this case might be an insurance policy with the estate named as beneficiary. All proceeds from the policy would have to enter into probate. Salary and benefits due to the deceased and money collected from debts owed to the deceased are also part of the probate estate.
Most states allow a limited amount of property to pass to certain beneficiaries free of probate, or through a simplified probate procedure. Some states, for example, exclude property that is owned as community property by spouses or domestic partners from the probate process. Or, a state may exclude property that is left to a spouse or partner in a will from probate.
I recommend looking into your state’s law, or talking with a probate attorney in the state you want to invest in. Being familiar with probate law helps you understand when probate is required and what the steps in the process are, which gives you more direction and allows you to formulate your probate investing strategy.
It’s important to understand that the probate process is statute driven, meaning the law dictates when things need to be resolved. This means the personal representative feels pressure to make fast decisions, thus producing opportunities for informed investors.
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