With probate, the court decides if a deceased person’s will is valid and supervises the administration of his or her estate. Planning for probate when creating your estate can facilitate the passage of assets to your intended heirs.
Review the requirements for the probate process in California to inform your estate plan.
Some types of property do not require probate for the executor of your estate to transfer it to the beneficiary. Examples include:
- Bank accounts, life insurance plans and retirement accounts for which you have named a beneficiary
- Property held by a living trust
- Real estate with a beneficiary or transfer on death deed
- Homes with right of survivorship when two or more people own the property as joint tenants
Assets that do not fall into this category may have to go through probate if the total value of your estate exceeds the state threshold (currently $166,250).
Estates worth less than the California maximum can go through simplified probate. Otherwise, your executor must have court supervision to carry out actions such as paying estate expenses and debts, collecting and valuing assets, and distributing the estate according to your validated will.
The standard probate process can take up to 18 months in California, or longer if someone challenges your will or executor. The simplified probate process requires only a court affidavit for your heirs to collect the property you have left to them in your will.
Thinking about probate as you plan your estate can help you avoid issues that cost time and money for your family members.