Generally, estates have to go through probate proceedings, exposing involved parties to the usual lengthy and costly court processes. However, transferring estate assets without going through formal probate proceedings is also possible.
Navigating simplified procedures to transfer estates
In California, there are ways to obtain a deceased estate owner’s properties without going to court, called simplified procedures to transfer an estate, which include the following:
- Direct transfer to beneficiaries: Assets with designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance, retirement accounts and properties in living trusts, automatically transfer to the named beneficiaries upon the owner’s death.
- Automatic transfer to co-owner or survivor: If the decedent’s properties are owned in joint tenancy or with the right of survivorship, the properties become the surviving co-owner or partner’s assets.
- Distribution of social security benefits: Dependents of deceased veterans can collect survivor benefits without going to probate court.
- Collection of small estate assets: Under California laws, if an estate’s total value does not exceed $184,500 (as of writing), and meets the other requirements of a small estate, the deceased’s successor can collect one or more particular property without going to court.
Nonetheless, other factors, such as the existence of a will, still play a significant role when determining whether an estate’s assets qualify for a simplified procedure. It is best to evaluate the unique circumstances of your case before proceeding with any step.
Clarifying doubts with proper guidance
Confirming specific information, such as the type of property and the estate value, is crucial when determining whether an estate has to go through court proceedings. However, this can be overwhelming, especially if you know little about estates and their administration.
If you are unsure whether your situation qualifies for a simplified procedure to transfer estate assets, seeking guidance from a probate attorney can help you find clarity.