What happens to property without a will while it is in probate?

An IRA with a named beneficiary is exempt from probate. A house in joint tenancy does not pass through probate. However, say a car is titled in only one spouse's name.

What would actually happen with the registration, title, etc?

The car can not be used by the living spouse?

The auto itself goes into probate?

  • 2
    I suspect you don't meant the Northern Irish terrorist group so what, or who, is an IRA in this context please? I'm asking for clarity so users may wish to offer an answer from other jurisdictions because: "we expect and encourage answers dealing with other jurisdictions ... please tag your answer using the tag markdown: [tag: some-tag]
    – user35069
    Aug 3 at 7:40
  • "without a while" == "without a will"?
    – Barmar
    Aug 3 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


Any property of a decedent which does not evade probate because of a transfer on death deed is subject to probate. It turns out that this probate avoidance in New York can include one automobile within a family, here is the main form and a companion form. But let's say that the car is worth more than the limit (and you don't want to pay the estate the excess), then it might have to go through the longer process. That does not mean that the spouse cannot use the vehicle, as long as the spouse takes reasonable action to transfer the vehicle (waiting 5 years is not reasonable).

  • And using the vehicle only if both spouses are on insurance?
    – paulj
    Aug 3 at 15:49
  • A separate matter is that no person can drive a vehicle in NJ without satisfying the financial responsibility laws. Also, a person cannot drive without a valid license.
    – user6726
    Aug 3 at 16:51

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