Avoiding Probate with a House in California
If your estate is worth more than $150,000 (including real estate), then there is generally no avoiding probate court. When you have assets like cash, cars, boats, and a house, the executor of your estate will have to use California’s probate courts to distribute the assets to your beneficiaries. Because it could take several months to pass through the court system, your assets could sit undistributed while your family waits.
A simple real estate trust, however, can help resolve the majority of this issue. Because land values are generally more than $150,000 in California, you have to find a way to remove your house from your list of assets. Then, you can avoid probate court. Ask a lawyer to create a simple trust in which you place your house, naming your family as the beneficiary of the trust. When you pass away, the trust retains ownership of the house, and as long as you have less than $150,000 in other assets, your estate won’t have to go through probate court.
While some people fear the idea of giving up their primary asset to a trust, trusts are generally the best way to keep assets in the family. The trust become the legal owner of the property while the beneficiaries change over time. In this way, a family home can easily pass through multiple generations without the complexities of probate court and estate tax.