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How to Avoid Probate in California:

There are many ways to avoid probate of assets upon death. I have listed several of them below for your information:

 1. A Funded Living Trust;

 2. Joint Tenancy Bank Accounts;

      3. Pay on Death Beneficiary Designations on Bank Accounts;

4. Beneficiary Designations on Annuities;

5. Beneficiary Designations on Life Insurances;

6. Beneficiary Designations on U.S. Savings Bonds;

7. Beneficiary Designations on Pension accounts.

California exempts the first $150,000 of a person's estate from probate, meaning that the first $150,000 can be collected without a formal probate procedure.  After 2020, the $150,000 has changed to $166,250.

If the probatable (other than above) assets of the Decedent are more than $150,000 ($166,250 after 2020), a formal probate procedure is necessary to transfer the assets of the decedent to his/her heirs. If there is a will, the court will order the distribution of the decedent's assets according to the terms of the will. If there is no will, California Laws set forth who will succeed to the assets of the decedent.

Generally, a probate case in California is supposed to close within one year from the date the Letters are issued. Letters is the authorization of the executor or administrator to manage the assets of the decedent. There are many cases where the probate case cannot close within one year because of litigation or unresolved claims by creditors or by decedent.


Living Trusts:

Why have Living Trusts become the method of choice in managing and distributing assets of Decedents?

Living Trusts are usually administered informally outside of the jurisdiction of the courts, unless there is a dispute.

There is more flexibility in resolving issues among beneficiaries without the need for costly court proceedings.

Living Trusts can distribute assets faster than probate matters because they are not tied to the hearing dates by the court. The average living trust can be terminated approximately 5 months after death, assuming there are no estate taxes.

Living Trusts are less expensive to administer than probate cases. The cost of administering a trust is commonly less than one half of the cost of probate administration.

Living Trusts generally take two appointments to create.

Living Trusts work during incapacity and at death. Wills are only useful at death.

The following is a sample of approximate costs of a simple PROBATE case in

Los Angeles County, containing real estate valued at $500,000, assuming there is no will:

Court Filing Fees: $465 (as of 2016)

Newspaper Publication Fees: $200-900

Bond Premium: $1500 per year. ($3.00 X$500)

Probate Referee's Fees: $500

Administrator's fees: $15,000

Attorney's Statutory Fees: $15,000

SUBTOTAL: $32,665

What are the approximate costs of administering a LIVING TRUST with a simple, non-litigated trust valued at approximately less than $500k of assets?

Attorney's Fees: 1-1.5% of the gross trust value plus hourly rate fees on certain task based items.

Trustee's Fees: 1-1.5% of the gross trust value plus hourly rate on certain task based items.

Appraisals:  $500 (approximately)

Saved on Probate with a Living Trust: Over $20,000 

If you would like to get more information on how to create a living trust in California, click here:

What documents do you need to create a living trust? Email Us..

If you need an appointment to create a trust, Click here.


The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.
You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

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How to Avoid Probate in California?