Many Californians own significant property that they want to protect for their heirs and beneficiaries. Although these individuals may be familiar with estate planning and how it can be utilized to avoid the long, drawn-out probate process, they may not be aware of how assets that are owned out of state will be handled upon their passing.
Generally speaking, assets must be dealt with in the state where they are located. Therefore, a Californian who passes away and owns real estate in Arizona will have that out-of-state property subjected to Arizona's probate laws. This is called ancillary probate. Having to have assets probated in multiple states can be expensive and may result in a significant delay of estate assets. This is why it is critical that Californians who find themselves with this potential carefully consider their legal options.
There are estate planning strategies that can be utilized to avoid ancillary probate. To start, property can be placed in a revocable trust. These trusts and their assets avoid the probate process, thereby avoiding the issue altogether. Another option is to own property with another party. By doing so, ownership of the property will automatically transfer to the co-owner upon death without the need for probate. Also, assets that are subject to transfer on death provisions are exempted from the probate process.
Estate planning may seem quite simple, but to do it right can take time and meticulous attention to detail. To best ensure that costly mistakes are avoided, Californians should consider working with a competent legal professional before dealing with these matters. A skilled estate planning attorney can discuss will and trust options that are available and may suit an estate's needs. Only once those options are carefully selected can an individual rest assured that his or her assets and loved ones are properly cared for.