There is a legal process called probate that will often enter the picture when an estate is being administered. Generally speaking, property that is in your direct personal possession when you pass away would be looked upon as probate property. The transfer of the property would take place under the supervision of the probate court.
We should point out the fact that property that would usually be probate property could be transferred outside of the full probate process in California under certain circumstances. If the estate is valued at less than $150,000, the transfer would not be subject to the full probate process. In addition to this, assets that are being transferred to a spouse or domestic partner could be transferred outside of probate.
With regard to transfers that are subject to probate, there are significant drawbacks to take into consideration. For one, probate is expensive, especially in California. Secondly, probate is a public proceeding. Anyone who wants to find out how you decided to distribute your assets could obtain this information by accessing probate records.
Probate also opens a window of opportunity for disgruntled individuals who may want to challenge your estate.
Lastly, probate can be quite time-consuming. The heirs to the estate cannot receive their inheritances until after this process has run its course, so the time consumption can make things difficult for the heirs.
The exact duration of the process will depend upon the circumstances. A best case scenario would be around eight months to a year.
Certain asset transfers would naturally take place outside of probate, and it is possible to avoid probate through the implementation of certain strategies.
Joint tenancy is the condition of co-ownership. If you were to add a joint tenant to the title or deed of property that you own, the joint tenant would assume ownership of the entirety of the property after your passing, and probate would not be a factor.
Life insurance proceeds pass outside of probate, and the beneficiary of a payable on death account would assume ownership of the remainder in the account after the death of the primary account holder free of the probate process.
When it comes to probate avoidance tools, revocable living trusts are very popular. You continue to control the assets in the trust while you are living, but you name a trustee to administer the trust after you die. After your passing, the trustee would follow instructions that you leave behind in the trust declaration. Assets would be distributed to the heirs to the estate outside of probate.
Schedule a Consultation
We would be glad to assist you if you would like to discuss probate and probate avoidance with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney. To set up a consultation, send us a message through this page: Sacramento CA Probate Attorneys.