The Estate and the Probate Process
When it comes to drafting an estate plan, you want to make things as easy on your family as possible. As such, you want to do what you can in your documents to decrease the legal hassle that may follow your death. Probate court is something that you want to try and avoid at all costs. In California, not all wills have to go through the whole probate process. Find out why and what you can do to decrease your estate’s chances.
Assets owned in common
Some assets bypass the probate process entirely. Anything you own in joint tenancy with another is free from probate. This is because these types of assets automatically pass to the survivor. Things that qualify for this include:
- Property either improved or vacant
- Bank accounts
- Stock shares
Other tools estate planning attorneys use may also help keep things out of court. Trusts in common with someone or with a beneficiary designated disburse outside of probate. Any other financial holding that has a beneficiary, such as 401(k) plans and life insurance, also passes directly to those named after death.
Estates valued less than $150,000
In California, the value of your total holdings may negate the need to probate the will. If the estate’s value after disbursement via beneficiary or joint tenancy is $150,000 or less, the will does not have to proceed through court. Your heirs will have to claim their inheritance and submit an affidavit recognizing they received what the will intended.
With careful consideration in drafting your estate documents, you can help your loved ones have a less stressful means of getting the property you left them. Even if your will must go through probate, the process does not have to become so daunting.