Estate planning is often thought of as something only wealthy families need. However, every family should have a strategy in place to make the transition of assets smoother and less stressful for loved ones. One big reason to have an estate plan is to minimize the risk of assets winding up in probate court. Probate is an expensive process that can take many months to complete. Here’s how families in California can avoid having assets locked up in the probate process.
Basically, probate is the process of settling an estate. The probate process usually takes anywhere from six to nine months, but may take longer in some cases as the probate process varies from state to state. However, there are ways that this process can be avoided altogether. The best ways to avoid probate are through an initial form of ownership or with a living trust.
Joint ownership with rights of survivorship is typically used when a married couple buys a home or other form of real estate. Upon the death of one spouse, the property would automatically pass to the surviving spouse. A revocable living trust may be the best way to avoid probate and protect privacy. Upon death, the assets named in the trust pass straight to the designated beneficiaries without going through the probate process.
Estate planning is not designated for only wealthy families, nor does it have to be confusing or time-consuming. It’s important to discuss options with family members to develop the best approach for their needs. Those in California who have questions regarding probate or any aspect of estate planning could benefit from discussions with a legal representative. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney could provide much-needed guidance for families wanting to implement a plan for the future.