Even with a will, certain assets might be subject to probate in California. Consulting with an attorney is the best way to be assured that your wishes are carried out and that your heirs avoid the processes and delays associated with probate. The San Luis Obispo attorneys at Toews Law Group, Inc. can help make sure that assets are transferred to heirs and beneficiaries in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Assets that may be subject to probate include:
- Property held as tenants-in-common. Property is in a decedent’s name and at least one other person’s name can be subject to probate. Tenants-in-common differs from “joint tenancy” or community property with right of survivorship. “Tenants-in-common” can apply to bank accounts, stocks, bonds, vehicles, real estate, business interests and a variety of other assets.
- Assets that are solely owned by the decedent, such as real estate or vehicles only that person’s name.
- Estates valued over $166,250.
While California has a simplified probate process for estates up to $166,250 in value, or for real property up to $55,425 in value, there is still a probate process that must be followed.
The inheritor must prepare an affidavit stating that he or she is entitled to the named asset or assets and submit the affidavit to the court. When the person or institution holding the asset receives the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate the asset is released.
There is a 40-day waiting period before assets from an estate valued up to $166,250 can be distributed, and a six-month waiting period for real property up to $55,425.
Legally avoiding probate
Revocable trusts, pay on death accounts and registrations, and gifts are not subject to probate. There are additional ways to legally avoid probate that include:
- Naming “pay on death” beneficiaries on bank and retirement accounts
- Properly used beneficiary designations
- Joint tenant accounts
Consulting with an attorney is beneficial even for those who don’t think that their estate is of much value. A simple intention, such as leaving a small amount of money, or designating that property is to be sold and the proceeds donated to a charity can be contested when there is only a will. Unhappy heirs can tie up an estate in probate court for a very long time.
Toews Law Group, Inc. can help make sure your estate is structured properly to avoid probate.
- If you are an heir facing probate, Toews Law Group, Inc. can help and we also counsel executors or administrators on whether assets can be transferred without probate.
- We prepare all the necessary documents when probate is needed and make sure all documents are filed in a timely manner.
- We advise executors regarding his or her duties as the administrator of an estate.
The attorneys at Toews Law Group, Inc. have years of experience in probate and estate administration and can make this difficult process much easier for you and your family.