Probate in California usually takes about 18 months, costs about 5% of the total gross value of the probate estate, and sensitive family information is open to the public. For these reasons, I work hard to set up my clients’ estate plans to avoid Probate.
Nonetheless, sometimes I am approached by a beneficiary whose deceased relative did not put together a comprehensive estate plan, and in order to inherit the estate, a probate administration is unavoidable.
Assets that are exempt from probate are: real estate or accounts that are titled in joint tenancy, any type of account that has a beneficiary designation, such as life insurance or retirement accounts, POD/TOD accounts, and automobiles. Also, if the total value of assets is less than $100,000, probate is not required.