Having to go through probate can cost your family time, money, and hassle, but you can escape these hardships through estate planning.

A Good Estate Plan Can Escape the Hardships of Probate

If your estate has to go through California probate court proceedings, having your assets transferred to your heirs after your death can be a long, costly, and confusing process. It can cause unnecessary effort for your family and create disputes and animosity. There is no reason for this to happen if you make estate plans now, while you are healthy and can make good decisions. The holidays is the perfect time to assess and plan for the future. You can escape the hardships of probate and make the process of handling your estate easier on your loved ones at a time when they are grieving your loss.

At Michael Sullivan & Associates (MS&A), our California estate planning attorneys can help you plan your estate in a way that spares your family the need for probate. A properly constructed estate plan will ensure that your loved ones are taken care of in the manner that you choose with minimal difficulties, costs, and fees. In addition, proper planning can lessen the chances of unwanted problems arising, such as wills being contested and disputes among family members who do not agree with how assets are distributed.

We understand the value of family relationships and have helped countless clients create estate plans customized to their individual family and business needs.  We can do the same for you. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to discuss what you should be doing to make sure your estate planning is done in a manner that avoids probate, so call us today at (714)743-8017

We welcome the opportunity to provide you with the peace of mind that comes from doing the best for your family and knowing your loved ones are provided for.

How an Estate Plan Can Prevent the Need for Probate

Many people think that if they have a will, they can prevent the need for probate, but this is not necessarily the case. Probate is a court proceeding which clears titles to certain properties passing from you to your beneficiaries. The probate process carries out the direction provided in your will for property that is not exempt from probate.

Having a properly constructed estate plan goes beyond a will and takes into consideration how to cover all your assets so probate is not necessary. When you meet with an estate planning lawyer at MS&A, we will examine your individual situation and needs, the types of assets you have and how they are titled, and your family structure, and look for the best ways to protect your loved ones and escape the hardships of probate.

Possibilities may include:

  • Utilizing types of assets which are transferred immediately upon death and are not subject to probate. Assets can escape probate by titling them as:
  • Joint tenancy — When you title an asset as joint tenancy, your interest passes to the surviving co-owner.
  • Community property — California is a community property state, so spouses and registered domestic partners generally own jointly all property acquired during the marriage. If you have community property with right of survivorship, this property passes automatically to the surviving spouse.
  • Utilizing beneficiary designations.  Your retirement accounts, annuity contracts, or life insurance will pass directly to the named beneficiary upon your death without the need for probate. Bank accounts can have payable-on-death designations; stocks and bonds can be registered in a transfer-on-death form; vehicles can be registered as transfer-on-death, and real estate can have transfer-on-death deeds. In case you’re worried about control of real estate, be assured that, according to Cal. Probate Code § 5620, the beneficiary you name on the deed has no rights until your death.
  • Setting up trusts. In California, you can set up a living trust to avoid probate for any asset you place in the trust, including real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles. Our attorneys can help you create a trust if this is your best option.