Douglasville, GA asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Alabama

Q: mother passed: house w/ mortgage, land, CD's a insurance policies no beneficiary. no will, do I petition probate?

I have 3 siblings. Do we need to petition probate? We just want names added to deeds joint tenancy, and everything in equal shares: life insurance payouts, cd's, property ownership etc.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Jack T. Carney
Jack T. Carney
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: I cannot speak to your specific situation without reviewing the deed, account information, etc. In general when a person dies and their name is the only name on an asset (such as the deed or a CD) and further where there is no beneficiary named, then a probate is required in order to transfer title to those assets. If there was a co-owner or a payable on death beneficiary, then there would be no assets in the deceased's name and probate would not be needed. The basic function of probate is to transfer assets from the name of a deceased person to the proper heirs. When a person dies without a Will, a probate is still necessary in order to pass title to those assets (and to handle debts of the estate). You would probably be well served consulting with an attorney in your area about a potential probate administration. Even if you need to pay a consultation fee, it would be worth the peace of mind in knowing what to do next. Further, an attorney may be able to advise you on probate alternatives (and whether you can use these depend on the size and type of the specific assets).

As for any life insurance policy, the proceeds are paid to the named beneficiary. If there is no named beneficiary, the terms of the policy will typically govern where those proceeds go. Most of the time the "default" beneficiary is the probate estate of the owner of that policy.

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