Good estate planning pays particular attention to state probate laws and how they will impact your estate. Though state laws differ, certain types of property almost always must pass through probate unless an estate plan creates a method to avoid it.
Anything you own as the sole owner is a likely candidate for probate. For example, if you own a vacation home in your name alone this will likely have to go through probate before your heirs can receive it after you die. If you own property jointly with someone else and that joint ownership has a right of survivorship, this type of property will not have to go through probate.
Assets Without Beneficiary Designations
Some property allows you to name a beneficiary who will inherit the property upon your death. For example, many bank accounts and insurance policies allow you to choose who you want your beneficiary to be. Upon your death, that property will pass outside probate. Other property, such as individual stocks and some bank accounts which do not have beneficiary designations, will have to go through probate.
Assets Outside of a Trust
If you create a living trust and transfer your assets to that trust, these will not have to go through probate. However, if you die and have some property that you failed to transfer to the trust, or some of your transfers were made improperly, such property will have to go through probate.