What You Need to Know About Probate and How to Avoid it
Probate refers to the legal process, or processes, that occur after the death of an individual. The term probate covers a variety of legal topics that can arise after death. These include contesting a person’s will, identifying assets of the deceased, paying the debts of the deceased, distributing assets when the deceased left no will, and more. Depending on the issues, the probate process can take as little as a few months or as much as several years. Probate is not a necessary process after someone dies; instead, it can be avoided all together.
Before understanding the process of avoiding probate, it is important to have a general concept of what probate is. If an individual leaves a will, the will often names an executor to the will to oversee the distribution of assets, deal with financial responsibilities, and generally oversee the estate. If there is no will in place, the probate court will distribute the deceased’s assets according to state law. Additionally, if there is no executor of the estate named in the will, the court will appoint someone to administer the estate.
Having a will does not mean that you can avoid probate. There are many ways that probate can be avoided in the state of California.
- Revocable Living Trust: A revocable living trust holds all of your assets. A living trust is not subject to probate after death. The assets of the trust are not considered part of the estate that is subject to probate. You can operate as the trustee of the trust and appoint someone to take over after your death. All of your assets and property can be included in the trust, leaving no assets or property to go through the probate process.
- Property Value: If the value of the property is less than $150,000, it is not necessary to go through probate. Instead, all that is required is a title transfer. If the deceased has a surviving spouse, they are usually the recipient of the property
- Transfer on Death Deed: A revocable transfer on death deed is a tool used to name another to inherit property after your death. These types of transfers do not have to go through probate.
- Transferring Accounts: For many types of accounts, a Transfer-on-Death or Payable-on-Death beneficiary can be named. The beneficiary takes ownership of the accounts after the death of the owner. These forms can override a beneficiary that is named in the will.
If you have questions about estate planning, or are looking for an attorney to make sure your estate plan is property set up, contact the estate planning attorney at the Law Office of Kris Mukherji. No one wants to leave their loved ones with the task of sorting through assets and figuring out what to do. We can help you establish an estate plan that takes away that responsibility from your loved ones and leaves a direct plan of what should be done. Contact us today for a consultation.