A probate estate consists of those assets which were owned by the decedent at the time of his or her death, except those which pass after death:

  • to a joint owner, such as is the case of a joint bank account or savings bond;
  • to a joint owner of real estate owned as “joint tenants with the right of survivorship” or “tenants by the entirety;”
  • to a designee on a “payable on death” bank account; to a beneficiary designated on an IRA, retirement, or other investment account or annuity;
  • to a beneficiary designated on life insurance; or,
  • in most instances, to the spouse in the case of a motor vehicle.

If the total value of the probate estate is great than $25,000, then we must probate the decedent’s estate either formally or informally. There are several factors that determine whether to proceed formally or informally. We would decide after an initial consultation with the individual seeking to be appointed as Personal Representative of the estate.