If you die without a will in California, your estate will go through the probate system in the California courts. The term “probate” refers to the legal process by which a court oversees the distribution of your assets to the new owners. In California, the probate procedure is complicated, stressful, and public, and oftentimes lasts for several years. It is also expensive, as attorneys’ fees and executors’ fees are set by statute.
More importantly, if you die without a will, your property may or may not pass the way you would wish. If you don’t have a will, your assets will pass by “intestate succession,” which is the distribution of assets dictated by state law. While this system may distribute your assets to the people you would want to, consider two things:
- Your children will receive your assets when they reach age 18, and
- if your spouse remarries, he or she is free to give your money away to anyone, including to his or her new spouse. To ensure your loved ones receive their inheritance as quickly and easily as possible, you may want to avoid probate. We can show you techniques and strategies to help you do just that.
In addition to intestate estates, all wills must pass through probate. If you are the beneficiary of a probate estate, we can guide you through the process quickly, compassionately and effectively.
How Do I Avoid Probate And Protect My Family?
Property held in joint tenancy or community property with right of survivorship, and the proceeds of life insurance, retirement accounts, and annuities should pass to the surviving joint owner or the named beneficiaries without the necessity of probate, so long as the named beneficiaries survive the owner of the asset. Assets held by a revocable living trust also avoid probate.