Clients often come to us with questions about which assets need to go through California’s probate process. Probate is the court process that oversees property transfer from the estate of one who has died to their beneficiaries. There are specific processes that must be followed, which are dependent on several factors. These could include whether or not the deceased had a will, how many beneficiaries there are, etc.

Some of the more commonly known assets to go through probate might be property and bank accounts. However, it is essential to note that other items may be required to go through the process. This process is required before the items are distributed to beneficiaries.

Items that go through probate are determined by the title of property rather than types of property. If a deed or account name is solely in the deceased’s name, then the property becomes part of the probate estate. If the property’s title is held jointly with another individual, the joint owner becomes the sole owner.

It is also possible for specific assets to have a designated beneficiary. For example, many brokerage accounts allow you to name an heir, so the account transfers without the requirement of probate.

Probate property:

  • Solely titled or tenants in common real estate
  • Personal property ( heirlooms, jewelry, artwork, vehicles, etc.)
  • Solely owned bank accounts

Items not subject to probate:

  • Joint tenancy real estate
  • Life insurance with a designated beneficiary
  • Property of a living trust

The answer to whether household items go through probate is dependent on a few conditions. Suppose the asset is titled, jointly owned, or designated with a beneficiary. In that case, no, it is not required to go through the process.

But if the item is not designated for transfer before the loved one’s death, it will need to go through probate. Again, this will be required to distribute the asset to the beneficiaries.

Planning Ahead

It is never pleasant to consider one’s passing. However, estate planning before the time of death can reduce the amount of cost and time involved in probate. In some cases, planning can help avoid probate altogether via a living trust or simply designating account beneficiaries.

Ensuring that all property is titled correctly with designated beneficiaries is an important step. The plan should also include an inventory of assets for probate items and date of death values. This information is helpful for paying any federal estate tax.

Having a plan in place will help ease your loved ones’ financial and emotional burden. It will also ensure that your wishes are carried out.

It is not necessary or recommended that anyone plan their estate alone. The Legacy Lawyers are here to walk you through that process. Call today with questions or for a consultation (714) 963-7543. Our goal is to ensure you have peace of mind regarding your estate and loved ones.