When you are mourning the death of a beloved family member, the idea of dealing with their estate can seem overwhelming. Understandably, many people want to prevent their family members from facing the stress and uncertainty of handling their estate when they die. In their quest to ease the burden on their loved ones, one of the most common questions people ask is whether they will need probate.
What Is Probate?
Probate, which is the process of settling a person’s estate and distributing their property, is something that is frequently dramatized in the news and on TV. When a movie star passes away, the media tends to cover their estate for weeks and months afterwards. In some cases, an estate lingers in court for years after the person dies.
Fortunately, the majority of estates do not languish in court for months. For most estates, the probate process is relatively straightforward.
If you die testate (with a will in place), the court will appoint your personal representative to handle the administration of your estate with the court’s supervision. If you die intestate (without a will), the court will appoint a personal representative.
There are two main types of assets in an estate: probate assets and non-probate assets. Probate assets are those that do not have a designated beneficiary. Typical probate assets include things like automobiles and bank accounts not payable on death. Non-probate assets pass to beneficiaries outside probate and include property such as insurance policies, payable on death accounts, and transfer on death accounts.
Because the probate process can be costly and time-consuming, many people wish to avoid it entirely. If you want to avoid probate, it is important to create a thorough estate plan with the help of an experienced California estate planning and probate lawyer. Some of your options include:
Titling Property to Include Beneficiary Designations
In California, it is possible to title most property in a way that makes it transfer automatically to a designated beneficiary. You can do this with bank accounts and certain types of investments. As of January 1, 2016, you can also title real estate to pass directly to a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) with a transfer upon death deed.
Creating a Trust
A trust is one of the most effective methods of bypassing probate. Because the trust’s assets are titled in the trust’s name, the assets stay in the trust when the trust maker passes away. Depending on the terms of the trust, the assets (or trust income) can then be distributed to the trust’s beneficiaries.
Roseville, California Estate Planning Attorneys
Interested in learning more? Our attorneys are here to help. Call Yee Law Group Inc., PC today at (916) 599-7297 to speak to an experienced estate planning lawyer about your needs and goals.
This website has been prepared by Yee Law Group Inc., PC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.