Probate can be a difficult and complex process. If you plan wisely, however, you can assure that your loved ones will avoid it upon your passing. Here are 5 ways to avoid probate for your property.
What is the Probate Law in Los Angeles?
Probate refers to the legal process of carrying out the instructions stipulated in the will of a person who has just passed away. The will, if there is one, will be submitted to a probate court who will then pass on any assets and properties left behind to the next of kin and whoever else is mentioned in the will.
Los Angeles probate law also states that the executor (the one carrying out the will) named in the will must file an affidavit claiming that they agree to the duties expected of an executor.
If a will was not written prior to the death, the court will then choose and appoint somebody to distribute the assets and properties. Typically, this will be the surviving spouse or a next of kin.
How Can I Avoid Probate for My Property?
Probate can be a source of stress for your kin, especially when combined with dealing with your death. On average, probate lasts anywhere between six to nine months and can cost upwards of $1,500. To spare your loved ones from having to go through probate, you can follow and of these processes.
There are multiple types of assets that are not required to go through probate. These include:
- Proceeds from a life insurance policy
- Payable-on-death accounts
- Property under trust
- Property with right of survivorship
- Retirement plan funds
- Pension plan funds
- 401(k) funds with a named beneficiary
- Any jointly owned property or real estate
- Property that was given as a gift
- Any unclaimed wages owed to the decedent
- Transfer-on-death deeds or registrations
Assets mentioned above can be transferred to your beneficiaries without having to go through probate by naming them outside of your will or through any order of distributions required by the state of California. Instead of going through probate, they will be passed on directly to their rightful new owners in the event of your death without any waiting time or verification.
You can transfer your assets directly and avoid probate using any of these means.
1. A living trust
Any asset or property you wish to pass on can be stipulated in a revocable living trust. This may be the easiest and most convenient way to avoid probate. Putting them in a living trust allows your heirs to inherit whatever is mentioned in it after your death. The benefits of living trusts include their flexibility and the capability to change it any time.
2. Payable-on-death accounts
These refer to bank accounts that have a payable-on-death (POD) clause which states that your named beneficiary will inherit your funds upon your death without the need to write any letters or filing any petitions.
Without a POD account, the bank will freeze your account until your executor comes in to show your death certificate, which can take time.
3. Change property titles to joint ownership
Your loved ones can avoid probate by changing all the titles to reflect joint ownership. Upon your death, your beneficiary does not need to present any documents to take over the property in question.
Another way you can do this is by using joint ownership through tenancy by entirety. This gives spouses the right to hold 100% interest in property.
4. Transfer-on-death deed
A transfer-on-death (TOD) deed, also known as a beneficiary deed, allows your real estate to be immediately transferred upon your death. The difference between a TOD and regular deeds is that a TOD does not take effect until your passing.
5. Gift the property
You are allowed to give a person up to $15,000 tax-free or $30,000 if you’re married and filing your taxes together. You are also allowed to give up to $11.7 million of your wealth before your death in the form of gifts before you are taxed by the state.
Gift giving helps you reduce the value of your estate, simplifying the probate process.
Probate can be difficult to navigate without the appropriate probate attorney in Los Angeles. This is where contacting a firm like The Law Office of R. Grace Rodriguez can come in.
Check if the firm specializes in probate planning before proceeding with them. In our case, we specialize in bankruptcy, real estate, and probate and estate planning. To book a consultation with us, simply click the telephone number on the upper right portion of our website to get started today.