When someone who owns property in California dies, a California court may need to oversee the transfer of property ownership from the decedent’s estate to the heirs, regardless of whether or not the individual has a will. This oversight process is called probate. Probate typically occurs when the decedent owns real estate valued at as little as $20,000 or has other property worth more than $100,000.
To the extent possible, probate should be avoided, and although there are many different techniques that exist under California probate law that can allow someone to avoid probate, there will be cases when probate cannot be avoided, and the process must be started in order to transfer ownership of the decedent’s property to the rightful heirs.
Examples of situations which do not avoid probate:
· Life insurance which names the insured’s predeceased spouse when the insured never got around to changing the beneficiary designation before the insured died.
· Annuity contracts, like the insurance contract, must change the beneficiary who may have died before the contract matures; when the beneficiary is deceased, the contract must be probated.
· Property whose title is held in “joint tenancy” and both joint tenants are now deceased. Without a surviving joint tenant to own the property, the property goes through probate.
· Mom and dad have a living trust which leaves property to an adult child. But if the child dies before mom and dad, the property goes through probate when both mom and dad die if the trust doesn’t say who else besides child gets the property. So even when a living trust exists, probate may still be necessary.
Speak with a probate attorney in Los Angeles, California about your probate matters. Call Mitchell A. Port at (310) 559-5259.