Avoiding Probate 101

Much of estate planning regards how to keep loved ones from going through the burdensome and time-consuming process of probate administration. In California, three popular means exist to keep assets out of the probate process. They involve harboring assets in a living trust, titling property as joint tenancy, or titling property as survivorship marital property.

Generally, the probate process affects all California residents with an estate of $150,000 or more. With respect to estates with less than $150,000, beneficiaries may claim the assets allocated to them in a will simply by signing an affidavit. Beyond $150,000, probate courts can substantially delay the provision of assets to beneficiaries.

  1. Living trusts. A living trust is a document that clearly lays out what certain money is for and who may manage it. It is a flexible means to harbor almost any asset including personal accounts and vehicles.
  2. Joint Tenancy. Joint tenancy is a form of titling property so that upon the death of one of the owners, title to the property passes to the remaining tenant. This is particularly useful to couples that are committed but not married or siblings co-owning property important to their family.
  3. Survivorship Marital Property. Married couples may title property as survivorship marital property. This designation avoids the probate process because the asset flows directly from the deceased spouse to the surviving spouse without court intervention. In operation, it is quite similar to a joint tenancy.

If you would like assistance with estate planning that can easily and quickly transfer assets to your loved ones, feel free to call us at (626) 696-3145.

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