Probate is a long and expensive process of transferring a person’s property and assets upon death. The probate process would be the default in California unless the deceased took other estate planning measures, such as creating a living trust or establishing joint tenancy. Although a will can explain to the state how to distribute your assets according to your wishes, your will guarantees probate.
Why is the probate process necessary?
When a loved one dies, they leave behind their estate. If they died testate, which is to say with a written will and testament, their will and estate must go through the probate process to determine its legitimacy and completeness. Probate is a court proceeding that accomplishes the following:
- Determines if there is a will and if the will is valid and authentic
- Discovers the surviving beneficiaries and heirs of the estate
- Assesses the value of the deceased’s entire estate
- Settles the debt and other financial responsibilities of the deceased
- Distributes the estate among the surviving beneficiaries and heirs
Aside from being legally valid, the will must account for all the property the testate owned in their lifetime. The testate must also mention all beneficiaries and heirs in their will. If they choose to disinherit a particular family member, their will must explicitly state the name of that family member and why they decided to disinherit them. A will that does not account for the entire estate and all the surviving beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries may go through probate litigation.
Why should I try to avoid probate?
The probate process in California can give your grieving family members more financial and emotional stress. Your heirs and beneficiaries may have to wait a long time before they can access their inheritances. There are ways you can avoid probate through proper and comprehensive estate planning. You should review all your options as these can save your family time and money.