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Do you need a will to avoid probate in California?

Probate is a legal process that involves transferring a deceased person’s assets to their remaining family members. The process can be confusing, costly, and time-consuming. As such, it is understandable that many people want to avoid probate if possible. 

There are different ways to avoid probate in California, some of which do not require a will. Here are some ways to avoid probate if you do not have a will. 

Create a living trust 

According to the California Courts website, property in living trusts will transfer directly to beneficiaries without having to go to court. You can also include nearly any type of asset inside a living trust, including bank accounts, vehicles and more. You must create a living trust while you are still alive and transfers ownership of all the assets inside to the trust. Once you have passed, the successor trustee can transfer the assets to all the beneficiaries without going through probate court. 

Put assets under joint ownership 

Another way to avoid probate court in California is to have assets jointly owned. When you own property with someone else and the ownership includes the right of survivorship, the property will automatically transfer to the other party when you pass. There will be some paperwork involved to transfer the assets solely to the surviving party, but the process will avoid probate court entirely. 

The two forms of joint ownership that accomplish this task include joint tenancy and community property with right of survivorship. Both ownership types give owners an equal share of the property and allow the other owner to take sole rights to the property once the other party has passed.