Probate is a title clearing process used to transfer
assets from the decedent to another person or entity.
If an individual dies owning property in his or her
name individually, that property must pass through
probate. The ultimate recipient of the property depends
upon whether the decedent had a will.
Assets with beneficiary designations, such as life
insurance and retirement assets, and assets held in
joint names, do not pass through probate. These assets
automatically pass to the named beneficiary or the
surviving joint tenant by operation of law.