Q: I’m the executor of my mother’s estate. The language in her will sounds like her estate will not go into probate. Is that possible?

A: The primary purpose of a will is disposition of property. However not all property owned by a decedent is subject to disposition by a will.

Many of the things our benefactors own are not subject to their will or probate. For instance, most life insurance and annuity contracts name a non-estate beneficiary that is paid directly upon claim (this is called operation of law or contract). The Same holds true for many bank and brokerage accounts these days that have Payable on Death or Transfer on Death provisions.

Joint accounts will usually pass to the other owner sans probate. Assets titled in Revocable Inter-Vivos or Living Trust agreements are administered and disposed of by successor trustees named in the document and real property, too, is often titled so as to pass to an heir while avoiding probate.

In short, anything that does not go to a beneficiary directly will be subject to the deceased will.And all wills, as well as assets that do not pass by operation of law or contract, are subject to probate. All of that other gobbledgook simply says you can do whatever you want once the estate has been administrated.