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What assets transfer outside of probate?

Probate is not always an automatic occurrence when someone dies. There are quite a few ways to bypass the process or at least speed it up.

According to the California Courts, if there is a legal way to transfer property upon death, it does not have to go through probate. There is nothing for the court to do in this type of situation.

Beneficiary accounts

If you have accounts with named beneficiaries, these will not have to go through probate. They already have the legal transfer set up within the nature of the account. Upon your death, the account goes to the person you name as the beneficiary.


Trusts also bypass probate because of the nature of their structure. A trust contains all the legal information necessary to transfer the trust assets to the heirs upon your death.

Jointly-owned assets

If you own property with another person, it will become the sole property of the other person when you die. There is nothing for the court to do because you both hold legal ownership and under the law, it transfers to the surviving owner.

Transfer on death

You can also set some assets, such as real estate, to transfer upon death to an heir. If you have a transfer-on-death deed, the legal process will take over and allow for the property to go to the selected person when you die without any need for probate.

Probate is mainly for the court to ensure your wishes carry out and to validate your will. If everything in your will is something that will transfer under the law to someone else, then the court has very little, if anything, to do.