If you die without a will in California, your estate will go through probate. Even if you leave a will behind, your estate might go through probate anyway to give people the chance to contest your will. Probate can be useful in certain situations, but you might want to avoid it as much as possible.
Why should you avoid probate?
Depending on the situation, probate could drag on for a year or more. Your heirs won’t be able to access their inheritance until probate ends. Even if you left one of your heirs a house, a vehicle or another important asset, they can’t touch it until the judge closes probate. This could be a problem for people who need the property or cash as soon as possible.
On another note, probate isn’t free. Your heirs will have to pay for a probate attorney, court fees, debts that you left behind and other charges. If they can’t pay out of pocket, they might use your estate to pay for the debts. As a result, your heirs might miss out on a percentage of their inheritance.
For these reasons, it’s important to avoid probate as much as possible. An attorney may give you advice on avoiding probate and ensuring that your inheritance ends up in the right hands.
How can you avoid probate?
The key to avoiding probate is figuring out a way for your assets to pass directly to your heirs. An attorney may help you create a trust and name one of your relatives as the beneficiary. You could also give your loved ones certain assets while you’re still alive, like properties and collectibles. Note that your heirs will have to pay gift taxes if you give them a large number of assets in a single year.