Does All Property Go Through Probate?

When a loved one passes away, beyond the feelings of grief or loss of companionship, most family members admittedly start thinking about what they will inherit from the decedent’s estate. There is nothing wrong with this curiosity. In fact, many people rely on inheritance to get through financial straits, so the distribution of property and assets is important; any delays could mean putting that person through hardship.

However, the state is always interested in the affairs of the individual. When someone passes away, a process known as probate will usually be used to review that person’s estate for accuracy. While probate is certainly helpful to some respects, it can also be seen as only an annoying speedbump to others. If time is of the essence, is there a way to avoid probate?

Five Commons Ways Property Avoids Probate

  1. Exemption: California will generally not look into an estate that is valued under $100,000. Property can be transferred to a surviving spouse without triggering probate so long as it is under this amount.
  2. Revocable living trusts: One of the most frequently used ways to transfer property outside of a will is to set up a revocable living trust. Once you pass away, the trustee who technically now owns the property can easily claim it without getting the court involved.
  3. Pay-on-death accounts: For assets that you want to slip by probate, perhaps to avoid heft estate taxes, make a pay-on-death account in the name of a close family member. When you are here no longer, the money will move from your account into their own.
  4. Joint ownership: A great way to avoid probate for large pieces of an estate, such as a home or business, is joint ownership. If you and a spouse, for example, own half of a house, you can have your half transfer to them when you pass away.
  5. Gifts: Each year, you can give a certain value amount of gifts to people without triggering taxes. Whatever has been gifted before your passing cannot go into probate because it is not your property.

Everything on this list of five common probate avoidance techniques is subject to some case-by-case interpretation. Whenever you are working on probate or estate planning, you should always team up with a trusted attorney. At Mansell & Mansell, APC, our Los Angeles probate attorneys have been the top choice of legal representation for countless clients throughout the year; our lead attorney, Cheryl Mansell, has been in the business of probate law for more than 25 years and has personally handled millions upon millions of dollars in California estates alone! Call 323.208.3501 or ask for a free initial consultation to get answers to your question about probate avoidance.

Categories: Probate, FAQ