Real estate is always a special consideration in legal matters. When it comes to real estate that you leave behind after your death, there are several ways the court may handle it. What happens will depend on ownership of the property and your estate plan.
According to The Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, if you own real estate that is only in your name, your estate must go through probate. You can bypass probate of real property if you place it into a trust or you have joint tenancy with right of survivorship. In all other cases, the property must go through the probate court to pass onto the new owner.
If you have a will, your real estate will transfer to whomever you designated in your will. If you do not have a will, then the court will follow state succession laws. All property you own, including real estate that is only in your name, will go to your spouse and any children you have from a previous marriage. If you do not have a spouse, then your children will receive the property. If you do not have children, then the court will look for your next of kin, which is usually a parent or sibling.
When you own real estate with another person, you both hold interest in the property. When you die, it does not mean that the property automatically transfers unless you have a prior agreement that legally sets up an automatic transfer. In most cases, the surviving person will have to file an affidavit of survivorship and your death certificate with the court to gain full ownership of the property.
Do note that in any situation where the real estate will transfer ownership, regardless of whether the court does it through probate or not, the new owner will have to make sure the deed has his or her name only it.