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Can probate be avoided after a loved one's death in California?

After the loss of a loved one, it is only natural to feel nervous about matters related to the decedent's estate and transferring property under the California Probate Code. It may be advisable to gain the necessary knowledge about probate procedures and whether it will be required to go to probate court at all. The need to go to probate court depends on how much money and what type property is involved as well as who will claim the property.

The type of title ownership may determine the need for probate. Property that is jointly owned with the right of survivorship will avoid the probate process because ownership of the property passes to the surviving member of the joint ownership upon the death of the other. When it comes to monetary funds, bank accounts, retirement funds, life insurance and other funds that have designated beneficiaries, the funds may pass to the beneficiaries without going to probate court.

However, there may be exceptions. For instance, while a single person can name any beneficiary, the surviving spouse of a married couple may have some claim on retirement funds. Furthermore, ownership of property or funds after a loved one's death is not automatic, and there are legal processes for establishing ownership of the property.

Dealing with these legal complexities may be overwhelming for most people. Fortunately, experienced California attorneys are available to provide guidance throughout the probate process. A lawyer can help with handling the legal obligations and duties that may relieve the burden that is commonly associated with finalizing a decedent's affairs.

Source: courts.ca.gov, "Deciding If You Need to Go to Probate Court and Whether You Can Use Simplified Procedures", Nov. 4, 2015

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