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A. Overview

A. Overview

If there is a Will, distribution of property comprising the decedent’s probate estate is ordered under the terms of his/her Will. If there is no Will, the property is distributed according to the state law of intestacy. (Note that one who dies with a Will is said to have died “testate,” and is called the “Testator.” A decedent without a Will has died “intestate.”)

What is included in one’s probate estate? All solely owned property, plus any and all other property interests that do not pass to somebody else by operation of state law. (E.g., If a house is held jointly with right of survivorship, the survivor gets 100% ownership at the very moment of the other owner’s death. The house would not be part of the decedent’s probate estate.) But, as you will see later, there is a BIG distinction between one’s probate estate and taxable estate. AVOIDING PROBATE DOES NOT MEAN AVOIDING TAXES!

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