Naming the beneficiaries of your assets in a will is one way to distribute them after your death. However, it means your loved ones will need to go through the probate process.
Instead, you can carefully plan your estate, using a few efficient ways to avoid probate in California.
Take advantage of joint ownership
Jointly owned property in California includes the right for one owner to obtain full ownership when the other dies. Additionally, there are two forms of joint ownership. According to joint tenancy, the property passes directly to the surviving owner without probate and works well for bank accounts, real estate, vehicles and other property. The other form is “community property with right of survivorship,” and this recognizes that spouses and domestic partners jointly own property acquired during marriage unless they intentionally kept it separate.
Create a living trust
The most common method used in estate planning to avoid probate is the creation of a living trust. Unlike a will, you can name beneficiaries and establish a plan for assets that ensure the carrying out of your wishes without probate. You remain the trustee and control the trust during your lifetime and name a successor trustee who will take over after your death. They will distribute the assets directly to those named in the trust.
Transfer-on-death directly to someone
California allows you to designate a direct heir for securities, real estate and vehicles. Upon your death, the person named as a transfer-on-death will immediately take ownership without probate.
Every estate plan is customizable, and the idea is to protect your wishes, regardless of your wealth level.