Part of smart estate planning in California is making sure your assets are set up with “right of survivorship” (also called “succession planning”) in order to avoid probate entirely.
Some common examples of this include:
· An insurance policy or annuity is not subject to probate if it is payable to a specific beneficiary. However, if the policy is payable to the deceased, California considers it part of the estate and therefore a probate asset.
· If there is a joint bank account or investment and the account includes right of survivorship, the account automatically goes to the surviving owner without passing through probate.
· Real Estate depends on how the title is written and the property type. If the property is titled as “joint tenants with right of survivorship,” it is not considered a probate asset. If the real estate is titled as “tenants in common,” California considers it a probate asset unless it is a “homestead property” – more commonly known as a primary residence. For example, an investment condo in Irvine that provides rental income could be a probate asset depending on the title’s language.
· Property owned jointly by husband and wife as “tenants by the entirety” is not a probate asset and goes directly to the surviving spouse.
· Assets placed into a properly drafted and fully funded California Living Trust are not considered probate assets and can pass directly to the named beneficiaries without court supervision.
Those are just a few broad examples of property that can become probate assets in California. An attorney experienced in California wills, trusts, estate planning and asset protection can answer your specific questions.
The Flanigan Law Group provides Southern California residents with personal attention for estate planning, administration and litigation legal services. When disputes between families, arise, they are very successful in resolving legal estate issues quickly and efficiently while preserving financial and emotional resources. Contact the Flanigan Law Group at 949-450-0042.