Does co-ownership of property eliminate the need for probate?

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Does co-ownership of property eliminate the need for probate?

My father recently passed away in MD. Our younger sister had POA for the previous 5 or so years. His final services were already paid for. She had access to his checking account, was listed as co-owner of his truck, mobile home and money market account of roughly $60,000. I am hearing from my sister that the state did not consider my father had an estate that needed to enter probate because she was listed as co-owner. Is this correct?

Asked on June 29, 2011 under Estate Planning, Nevada

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are certain assets that pass outside of probate. For example, funds in an IRA, pension, 401(k), or other retirement plan go directly to the named beneficiaries.  The same holds true for any life insurance proceeds. Also, jointly held property that is held with "rights of survivorship" or otherwise. Assuming the money market, truck and mobile home were jointly held/titled in this way the they too would be excluded from the probate estate and pass directly to the survivingjoint tenant (your sister). If you believe that your sister may have exerted undue influence over your father, possibly you may have a claim to recover some or all of these assets. The fact is that this is a very technical area of the law; accordingly you should consult directly with a probate attorney in your area.


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