After you pass away, your loved ones will have to face many different challenges. The probate process can prolong these challenges, and this court-supervised division of property can take more than a year in some cases. However, careful estate planning can help make the probate process easier and help some of your assets avoid probate altogether.
Having a plan is the most important step.
When you die without a will in California—also called dying intestate—the state determines what to do with your assets. Careful planning helps your estate avoid the challenges of intestate succession, speeds up the probate process and allows you to define your own wishes for your property.
Trusts help limit the assets that go through probate.
By using other estate planning documents like trusts to complement your will, you could limit the assets that actually go through this process. Because the probate process only addresses the assets you own at the time of your death, transferring those assets to a trust will keep them out of the probate process while still allowing you to define how they are to be distributed.
Careful estate planning can prevent future conflict.
One of the biggest issues that estates can face in probate is conflict among the heirs. By creating a well-thought-out estate plan, updating it regularly to ensure that it still fits your wishes and your family and talking to your family about your wishes, you can help keep peace among your loved ones. Communicating with your family allows you to work through potential concerns now and reassure them that your estate plan really does reflect your wishes.
Through careful planning, you can avoid the challenges of the probate process and provide for your family in the future.