The answer to this question is it depends. It depends on how assets were held during the marriage by the spouses and it also depends on what types of assets the deceased spouse had in his or her name.
Now there are a number of ways to deal with assets that were owned by a deceased spouse. One way is that if the value of those assets is lower than the threshold for a small estate, then the surviving spouse may use a small estate affidavit to transfer property.
The surviving spouse also might be able to use what’s called a spousal set aside, which is similar to a quickie or a short form of probate.
The third way that a surviving spouse can avoid probate is to have already established a revocable trust and have the trust owning the assets of the married couple.
Quick Question Corner is a video segment where we answer common questions about estate planning and elder law. If you have similar questions, leave them in the comment section and we can feature them in one of our videos in the future.