Brian R. Katz
How Can I Avoid a Probate in California?
Probate court proceedings, under which your assets are transferred to your beneficiaries after you die, can be expensive and slow. As such, it is understandable that a lot of people will try to save their families from Probate by any means necessary. In California, a 22% decline (around 14,029 cases) in Probate filings was observed between the fiscal years of 1981 and 2000. This may leave you asking one simple question: How can I help my own family avoid Probate once I pass away?
What Is Probate?
Probate is a legal process to settle the estate of a deceased person (“a decedent”) through court proceedings. Since the court supervises the Probate process, it is the Court applying California Law that ultimately decides who will get the decedent’s property and money.
In most cases, Probate happens whether or not you left a Will. If there is no Will at the time of your death, your assets will be distributed by the Court in accordance with State law.
The Downsides of Probate
Because of its complexity, Probate can adversely affect your family. Here are some of the downsides that come with probate:
- It is costly. Your family would need to pay for the fees of an Attorney and an Executor to run the Probate process.
- It is time-consuming and stressful. Probate involves court-governed activities and filing of paperwork in court. It could be a frustrating and tedious process that may take one to two years.
- It could be embarrassing. Documents related to the Probate are considered public records. Your asset values, proposed beneficiaries, and status of inheritance will be available for public review.
- It is out of your control. The fate of your assets will be placed in the hands of a Judge who may not take into consideration your family’s interests.
With all of the potential downsides that come with Probate, it's important that you take the time now to decide whether you want to try and help your family avoid it. Fortunately, my law firm can help you explore your legal options to avoid Probate.
How Can You Avoid Probate in California?
In the state of California, Probate is required when any of the following is true:
- The decedent did not leave behind a Will or Trust and their assets exceed $150,000
- The decedent did leave behind a Will, but their estate is valued at $150,000 or more
- The decedent did leave behind a Will, but there appears to be fraudulent or inaccurate information in the will
Consequently, the reverse is also true. You can avoid Probate in California if:
- You establish a Living Trust in lieu of a Will, and change the name on your assets to the name of the Trust
- Your estate is valued at less than $150,000 at the time of your passing
- You establish a Will and your estate is valued at less than $150,000
In most cases, the simplest way to save your loved ones from the expense and headache of Probate is to establish a Living Trust in addition to a Will. That being said, every case is unique. It’s important to review your options with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney so you can be sure you’re setting up the right type of estate plan for your family’s current and future needs.
Reliable Estate Planning Services in Granite Bay, California
You came here today with a simple question: “How can I avoid Probate in California?” My Law Firm, Katz Business Law, is here to not only answer that question but to guide you through the Estate Planning process from start to finish.
If you live in Granite Bay, Folsom, Roseville, Rocklin, Auburn, or a surrounding area of California, I invite you to schedule a free consultation with Katz Business Law today. During that initial conversation, we will sit down to discuss your family’s unique needs and goals so that we can ultimately design the Estate Plan that’s right for you.