Probate is the process of finalizing your estate after your death. Not every estate has to go through the process. It will depend on various factors.
Mass.gov explains the only time you will have to go through the process is when your estate contains assets that must go through probate. This is an asset where the ownership requires transferring from your name into someone else’s name.
Assets that do not require probate
Some assets need no transference of ownership because the law already has that occur automatically. If an asset has a named beneficiary, upon your death, it will go to that named person. It will not need to go through probate.
Another example is something you own jointly with another person. This does not always transfer to the other person completely, but if you have survivorship rights attached to it, then it will, and it will not require probate.
Situations that lead to probate
Even if you have assets that mainly transfer upon your death, you may still need probate. The process does not just transfer ownership of property. It also ties up loose ends and validates your will.
If there are any issues with your will, then it must go through probate. Also, if you have debts, the probate court will need to handle those. Your loved ones may also push the estate into probate to get access to information, such as your medical records.
The best way to avoid probate or at least ensure it will not be a lengthy process for your loved ones is to have a solid estate plan in place and to clear up any issues prior to your death.