My mother died, leaving my father a widower. They owned everything jointly. The bank accounts are in joint names, as is their house, and her insurance and IRA both list Dad as the beneficiary. Does anything need to go through probate?
No, jointly held assets between husband and wife almost always are “survivorship” assets, with the surviving spouse automatically owning those assets upon the decedent’s death. Insurance and other assets which have a “pay on death” designation pass “outside probate,” at least when going to the spouse, and the beneficiaries do not need a court order. They usually have to fill out a form, submit a certified death certificate or take other steps, but probate should not be needed. However it is worth your time to speak with a probate lawyer to ensure no probate is needed.