In New Jersey, when a person dies, his or her estate generally must go through the probate process before the assets can be distributed to the person's heirs either per the terms of the person's will or through the state laws of intestacy should the person die without a will. Many people wish to avoid probate, as it can be a time-consuming and costly process that could potentially reduce the size of a person's estate. However, it is important to note that certain assets are exempt from being probated.
First, assets placed in a revocable trust will not be probated. If a person owns a home or other piece of real estate via tenancy by the entirety or via joint tenancy with a right of survivorship, that real estate will not be probated. This is often the case when a couple is married, owns a home together and then one spouse passes away, while the surviving spouse is still alive.
Certain accounts have a payable on death clause or a transfer on death clause, such as bank accounts. These accounts will bypass the probate process. Accounts with a designated beneficiary, such as life insurance or a retirement account will also bypass probate.
Keep in mind that the information found in this post is general in nature, and it cannot promise any certain outcome in one's probate case. However, it is good to know that in general it is possible that some of a person's assets could skip probate entirely, even if the person did not have a will. Estate planning attorneys can provide more information on what assets can bypass probate in New Jersey.