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What assets are exempt from probate in California?

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2023 | Probate

It could be stressful for a family to go through the legal process of probate when they are still grieving the loss of their loved one. However, it is essential to go through the decedent’s assets and properties for proper distribution. Fortunately, some assets are exempt from probate and would be one less thing to worry about for the deceased loved ones.

Not subject to probate

In California, if the deceased did not solely own the property, the court considers it a non-probate property. These properties can be in any form ranging from real property, vehicles, belongings, and life insurance policies to bank or investment assets.

The most common types of non-probate assets are as follows:

  • Real estate. If the real estate is under joint ownership with the right of survivorship, it is exempt from probate. This means that upon the decedent’s death, they transfer their property rights to other surviving owners or relatives.
  • Financial accounts or life insurance policies. Financial investments and insurance policies come with designated beneficiaries. If the terms of the policy provide that the beneficiary will receive the amount upon the owner’s death, then these assets are not part of the probate process.
  • Living trust. After the trustor’s death, the assets can be distributed immediately by the successor trustee. Since the trust, rather than the deceased’s estate, holds the assets, they do not have to go through the probate process.

Basically, non-probate assets entirely avoid the probate process. With these, there is an immediate transfer of assets to the designated beneficiary upon the decedent’s death.

Knowing which assets and properties are subject to and exempt from probate is essential. This could make the process significantly easier for the family.