Estate plans are helpful, but they won’t always be enough to avoid California probate altogether. There are certain rules and restrictions that mean certain assets or whole estates are legally required to go through probate.
What assets have to go through probate?
Generally, you can avoid probate with a simplified procedure to transfer property. This is usually applied to life insurance and retirement accounts and property that’s in a living trust where the beneficiaries are named ahead of time.
However, some items, such as cars, property, etc., will have to go through probate, especially if they’re not listed in an estate plan. In addition, all estate plans totaling in over $166,250 in value are legally required to go through probate.
How to handle probate
The best thing you can do after finding out that your loved one’s estate needs to go through probate is to start the process as soon as possible. This involves filing a petition for probate, which will start the process of transferring assets to their beneficiaries as listed in the estate plan.
If there isn’t a detailed estate plan that addresses all of the assets, then it becomes much more difficult. The surviving family members and loved ones will have to decide in court who gets what, which can lead to infighting and rack up court fees.
What can make probate easier?
There are several options to avoid probate altogether in your estate planning. A lot of them involve setting up trusts, which is a larger up-front cost with the idea that your loved ones will save later.
Regardless of the monetary value of your estate, having an estate plan will make things easier. If you know your estate will be legally required to go through probate, you’ll want to make sure that your estate plan is extremely detailed.