When planning your estate, you can implement strategies to streamline or avoid probate in California. Doing so allows your spouse, children and other beneficiaries to inherit property directly.
Review the benefits of planning your estate to limit California probate and available strategies to shorten or eliminate legal requirements.
Reasons to avoid probate
If your estate requires probate, you likely have significant assets or complex factors such as a profitable business or children from more than one relationship. Even in these situations, you can often prevent court oversight of your estate or qualify for simplified probate.
The probate process may become costly for your estate, requiring your heirs to cover legal and court fees. In cases involving disputes or other complications, probate can take several years during which time your beneficiaries cannot inherit your assets as you intended.
Probate guidelines in California
If you have a surviving domestic partner or spouse, he or she can inherit any amount of property without probate. The probate court must review and approve this streamlined procedure when your partner submits the state’s Spouse (or Domestic Partner) Property Petition.
Your estate can also qualify for simplified probate based on its value. Currently, this process is available for estates worth less than $166,250 and real estate holdings worth no more than $55,425.
The probate value of your estate does not include property transferred to your spouse, held in joint tenancy, or with a named beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy. You can also create trusts and transfer assets to trust ownership to avoid probate.