Probate Attorney in Walnut Creek
Helping Individuals throughout Mountain View & the Bay Area
Probate is the court-supervised administration of a person’s estate. Probate in California is governed by the California probate code. The probate code is a collection of statutes enacted by the California legislature and interpreted and carried out by the California courts.
The purpose of probate is to notify any creditors that a person has died and then distribute that person’s assets. The assets are distributed either as described in the person’s will (if there is one) or as the probate code describes. In essence, probate is a process to foreclose creditors who do not make a claim during the statutory time limit so that the estate can be distributed without outstanding liabilities.
What Triggers Probate?
In California, probate is required when a person dies without a will or when a person dies with a will and a gross estate in excess of $150,000. Many people have the misconception that if you have a will, you can avoid probate. This is not true in California.
Steps in the probate process include:
- Appointing an administrator or executor
- Notifying potential beneficiaries and creditors
- Appraising and selling assets
- Settling creditor claims
- Distributing the remaining estate assets
How to Avoid Probate in California
Probate can be a long, time-consuming and expensive process. It can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete. In some cases, people choose to avoid it altogether. Below are some ways to avoid probate in California:
- Living Trusts
- Joint Ownership
- Transfer-on-Death Deeds for Real Estate
What is a Living Trust?
A living trust is similar to a will and can be created for any asset that you own such as real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and more. Before you do anything, make sure to transfer the ownership of your property to yourself as a trustee in the trust. In the trust document, you must name someone who will be your successor trustee after you pass away. Now the property will be controlled per your wishes in the trust. After your death, the successor trustee will transfer your property to your beneficiaries while avoiding probate court proceedings.
What is Joint Ownership?
Joint ownership refers to when two or more people own a property such as a home. Each person owns a share of an entire property; it is shared as a whole. If you have joint ownership of a property, each person has a “right of survivorship” to it. This means that the surviving owner of the property automatically owns the property after the death of the other owner. Probate court is not needed to transfer the property, however, paperwork is necessary to update the title with the correct information.
Call (855) 963-0987 for a Free Consultation
Please contact the Law Offices of Daniel L. DuRee for a complimentary discussion about how we can assist you with all of your will, trust, probate, and estate planning needs. You can reach our Walnut Creek probate lawyer at (855) 963-0987.
“Personable, professional and very thorough.”- Norman P.
“Very easy to work with!”- G.W.
“I would definitely go back to Daniel for estate planning needs and will recommend him to others in the future.”- Bryan P.