There are many pieces to an estate plan in California. Many of these involve assets to be distributed to beneficiaries following a person’s death. Some of these assets are subject to probate and some are not. Typically, the assets that have a named beneficiary are not subject to probate.
Assets that have a named beneficiary include items such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Other such accounts are transfer-on-death accounts and property that is held jointly with full rights of survivorship. These types of assets may not be subject to probate as the beneficiary or beneficiaries are named in the asset.
Assets that are not subject to probate should be reviewed annually to ensure that the beneficiary information is correct and up to date. Failure to update this information could result in assets going to unintended recipients. This happens most often with insurance policies and retirement accounts. For example, if a person divorces and neglects to change his or her beneficiary on a life insurance policy, the death benefit would go to the ex-spouse.
A person in California who has an estate plan or is considering establishing one could benefit from consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can review a person’s assets and help his or her client to ensure that all beneficiary designations are up to date. Periodic review of an estate plan enables a person to ensure that his or her final wishes will be carried out and that assets that are not subject to probate have appropriate beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries named in the documents.