Most, if not all, Californians want to avoid the probate process. After all, having an estate subjected to probate can make the matter public, and it is usually lengthy and costly. For these reasons, many people who engage in estate planning do so, at least in part, to avoid probate. In order to do this successfully, though, Californians need to understand the estate planning options available to them, choose those legal avenues that are right for them, and create legally valid documents that will withstand any challenges.
One action that can be helpful in one's pursuit to avoid probate is to utilize transfer on death accounts. Accounts that contain a transfer on death provision remain held by the account's creator until the time of his or her death. At that time, the assets subjected to the transfer on death provision are diverted to named beneficiaries. This completely bypasses the probate process.
Another benefit of transfer on death accounts is that an individual can specify the percentage of the account that is to transfer to each named beneficiary. This makes it easy for an estate executor to distribute those estate assets without delay and without dispute. These transfer on death provisions are most often found on retirement accounts, but such a provision can be utilized to address the distribution of just about any asset.
Again, transfer on death provisions are just one tool that can be utilized to fulfill an individual's estate planning needs. By working closely with an estate planning attorney of their choosing, Californians can better assure that their estate will be distributed according to their wishes and in a way that seeks to avoid the negative consequences of the probate process.