The Probate Court process is required to determine who owns the assets of a deceased person, regardless of whether a person dies with or without a Will, IF an asset:

  • Is held just in the deceased person's name without a beneficiary designation.
  • Is not held jointly with right of survivorship with any other person.
  • Is not subject to a beneficiary designation, e.g. life insurance.
  • Is not held in a Living, Revocable, or Irrevocable Trust.

Generally, a probate estate must be kept open for a minimum of 6 months and 10 days and often 12 months after it is officially opened.

It is usually better to go through the Probate process with a Will than without a Will. For example, without a Will, a beneficiary under 18 will receive his entire inheritance upon attaining age 18.