In What Circumstances Do You Not Need Probate In NYC?


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In What Circumstances Do You Not Need Probate?

Probate is a legal process often associated with administering a deceased person’s estate. However, not every estate in New York City requires probate, and understanding the circumstances in which probate may not be needed is crucial for effective estate planning. At Morgan Legal Group, we specialize in guiding individuals and families through the complexities of estate planning in NYC. In this informative guide, we will explore the specific situations in which probate may not be necessary, providing valuable insights to help you plan your estate more effectively.

1. Small Estates with Minimal Assets

Small estates with a total value below a certain threshold may be exempt from probate in New York. This threshold is subject to change and is influenced by the specific assets within the estate. Typically, estates falling below this threshold can benefit from simplified procedures or may not require probate at all. This can significantly expedite the process of distributing assets to beneficiaries.

It’s important to note that the threshold for small estates varies, and staying informed about the current regulations is crucial. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine whether the size of the estate qualifies for simplified procedures.

2. Assets with Designated Beneficiaries

Assets that have designated beneficiaries may bypass the probate process altogether. Common examples include life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts. When these assets have specified beneficiaries, they can be transferred directly to the named individuals without going through probate.

Ensuring that your assets have clear beneficiary designations is a strategic estate planning move. It not only expedites the distribution of these assets but also provides a level of certainty regarding their disposition.

3. Jointly Owned Property with Rights of Survivorship

Real estate or other property held jointly with rights of survivorship can avoid probate. In such arrangements, when one co-owner passes away, the property automatically transfers to the surviving co-owner without the need for probate. This is a common scenario for married couples who own property jointly.

However, it’s crucial to ensure that the ownership structure explicitly includes rights of survivorship. Without this designation, the property may be subject to probate, and the deceased co-owner’s interest could be distributed according to their will or the state’s intestacy laws.

4. Living Trusts and Revocable Trusts

Assets held in a living trust or revocable trust generally do not go through probate. A living trust allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to the trust during your lifetime, and the trust then manages and distributes those assets upon your passing. This arrangement provides a level of privacy and can streamline the transfer of assets to beneficiaries.

Establishing a trust requires careful planning and legal documentation, and it’s important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that the trust aligns with your goals and intentions.

5. Community Property with Right of Survivorship

In some states, including New York, community property with the right of survivorship is recognized. This form of joint ownership allows spouses to co-own property, and upon the death of one spouse, the property automatically transfers to the surviving spouse without probate.

It’s essential to understand the specific laws governing community property in your jurisdiction and to structure ownership accordingly to take advantage of the right of survivorship and avoid probate.


While probate is a common aspect of estate administration, there are circumstances in which it may not be necessary. Small estates, assets with designated beneficiaries, jointly owned property with rights of survivorship, living trusts, and community property with the right of survivorship are examples of situations where probate may be avoided.

It’s crucial to carefully plan your estate and work with knowledgeable professionals to determine the most effective strategies for your unique situation. At Morgan Legal Group, we specialize in guiding individuals and families through the intricacies of estate planning in New York City. Contact us today to ensure that your estate plan aligns with your goals and provides for the seamless transfer of your assets to your loved ones.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group.

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