Wills are private declarations of how a person wants his property distributed upon his death, at which time the will becomes public knowledge. The process for transferring property passed by a will depends on whether the property is personal property or real property.
Whether personal property, such as automobiles or money, or real property, a will must always be processed through a probate court before the property can be transferred. Each state has its own probate laws and court process that will determine the exact procedure and time frames.
Eventually, the court probate process will reach a winding-up point for the estate of the deceased. This is the point at which the executory or personal representative, the person in charge of managing the estate, will pay liabilities and distribute remaining assets. Personal property, except for automobiles, generally can be passed without recording a new title to the property.
Real estate does not transfer as easily as personal property. The person inheriting the real estate must record his deed with his local government, evidencing the probate procedure that passed title to the heir. Failure to record the probate deed will cause a gap in the chain of title for the property and cause problems if the property is ever sold.