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Do all California estates go to probate?

After the death of a loved one, some of your concerns may shift to what must be done to settle his or her affairs. For many, the prospect of going through probate in California can seem daunting and may only further add to their stresses during an already difficult time. However, depending on the situation, you may be able to transfer ownership of your loved one’s property without going through the formal probate process.

If the value of your loved one’s personal property estate is $150,000 or less, or the estate’s assets already have designated beneficiaries, you may be able to transfer ownership of the estate’s assets through an informal process. You may also use this simplified process if you were married or in a domestic partnership with the decedent.

According to the Judicial Council of California, you may not have to go to court to inherit personal property with a value that does not exceed $150,000. It is important to keep in mind that this only applies to assets such as monies in bank accounts, stocks or life insurance benefits not designated for another beneficiary. Assets including motor vehicles, boats, homes or land cannot be transferred through this process; which involves submitting an affidavit declaring your right to the property.

In some cases, the property you shared with your deceased loved one may also pass on to you without going through probate. This may be the case for community property you shared through marriage or a domestic partnership or for assets you owned together in joint tenancy.

This post contains general information only and is not intended as legal advice.