Death with Only a Will—Which Assets Avoid Probate?
When someone has a will only and does not make use of a trust, the majority of the person’s assets will end up going through probate after his death. However, California law protects certain assets from going through probate. That means these assets will automatically pass to certain individuals. Which assets fall into this category? There are 4 specific groupings.
Life Insurance Policies – Your named beneficiary will be paid directly by the life insurance company.
Retirement and Pension Plans – IRAs and other retirement accounts will automatically pass to the beneficiary that you have named.
POD (Payable on Death) Accounts – When a POD account is set up, you select the beneficiary who will receive the account upon your death. These funds, therefore, do not go through probate as other bank accounts may.
Joint Tenancy Properties – Joint tenancy properties can include things such as a home, vehicle, or even a bank account. The advantage of having both names on a deed, title, or bank account is that these assets then avoid probate. The disadvantage is that creditors may be able to go after these assets for debts owed by the deceased.
Making Trust and Will Decisions in California
In order to keep your family from long and expensive probate battles, you may choose to use a trust to pass on your estate. However, the four means noted above also hasten the process and avoid probate even if you use a will only. Which option is best for you? The estate planning lawyers at the Petrov Law Firm will be happy to help you make these decisions so that your loved ones will be well cared for when you are gone.