Probate is not always necessary. If the deceased person owned bank accounts or property with another person, the surviving co-owner will often then own that property automatically. If a person dies leaving very few assets, such as personal belongings or household goods, these items can be distributed among the rightful beneficiaries without the supervision of the court.
Sometimes probate is needed to:
- Clear title to land, stocks and bonds, or large bank or savings and loan accounts that were held in the name of the deceased person only, and put the title to these assets in the names of the rightful beneficiaries.
- Collect debts owed to the deceased person.
- Settle a dispute between people who claim they are entitled to assets of the deceased person.
- Resolve any disputes about the validity of the deceased person’s will.