There Are Several Ways to Avoid Probate in California

There Are Several Ways to Avoid Probate in California. . .

So, instead of worrying about dying and leaving your assets exposed, for the government to take. . . here are several techniques below:

1. Create (or pay a professional to create) a Revocable Living Trust and fund it with your house, your valuables, etc.;
2. Open a Joint Tenant Bank Accounts with a loved one or trusted companion;
3. Create a “Pay on Death” Beneficiary Designation at your Bank;
4. Create or Modify Your Beneficiary Designations on Annuities;
5. Create or Modify Your Beneficiary Designations on Life Insurance Policies;
6. Create or Modify Your Beneficiary Designations on U.S. Savings Bonds;
7. Create or Modify Your Beneficiary Designations on Pension accounts.

The above information is important to know because, upon one’s death, the first $150,000.00 of a persons estate is exempt from probate, under California law.  Thus, if the Decedent’s assets are subject to probate (i.e., notwithstanding the exemptions mentioned above), a formal probate is required to transfer the assets of the decedent to his/her heirs. If the Decedent had a will, the court issues an order which instructs the executor to distribute the decedent’s assets according to the wording (or “terms”) of the will. If there is no will, California statutes are in place to determine who will succeed to the assets of the decedent.

If you were not aware, California is well-known for taking a while to wrap-up probate cases. In fact, although many attorneys will say a California probate case should close within one year from the date “Letters” are issued, be prepared for approximately two years worth of changing calendars, vague or misleading probate notes, and just plain frustration due to creditors or litigation.

If you fail to act and forget (or choose not to act) on the above, it is guaranteed that your estate will be subject to probate in California.  Be forewarned that the cost of an average probate is steep when compared to the cost of wrapping up an estate protected by a Revocable Living Trust. If you are interested in getting more information on how to create a living trust, send us an email to: If you need an appointment to create a trust, call us at (661) 298-2500.  Please note that if we are with a client, our phone goes to voicemail.  If that happens, please leave a message and we will do our best to call back promptly.

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