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Law Office of DeAnne E. Parker
Redding Probate, Trusts, Estate Planning And Business Attorney

Other ways to avoid probate

This blog has previously talked about how Californians who want to avoid probate can do so. For instance, many residents of Redding may want to rely on trusts to avoid the probate process.

In other cases, jointly held real estate may be a good tool to ensure that a person's loved ones get the person's property with minimal inconvenience.

There are other ways a person can avoid the probate process. For instance, many people may own employment retirement plans, life insurance policies, and even certain bank accounts which are classified as payable on death.

Despite California's intestate laws or the terms of a will, these accounts will get paid to the person named as the beneficiary on the account. Moreover, the bank or institution that holds the funds will pay the beneficiary promptly that is, without having to go through the months or even years it takes to probate an estate.

On a practical level, this means that a person can use life insurance, their 401(k)s and the like as a convenient estate planning device. By putting the bulk of their wealth into these accounts and keeping their beneficiary updated, Californians can be sure that they provide a loved one with an inheritance.

However, on the flip side, a person must take great care to monitor and update who they have named as their beneficiaries. Likewise, when life circumstances change or when they acquire a new retirement plan or life insurance policy, they should review beneficiary designations.

Should they fail to do so, then it is quite possible that money will get paid to someone they did not intend. This is true even if the person kept his or her will current.

Speaking more generally, while beneficiary accounts are helpful estate planning devices, they are often just one piece of a comprehensive plan that should be developed with the help of an attorney.

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