California Estate Planning Lawyers Assisting with Probate Avoidance

Probate avoidance is a cornerstone of many California residents’ estate plans. Our California estate planning attorneys can evaluate your best options for including probate avoidance in your estate plan.

There are several reasons so many California residents wish to avoid probate:

  • The hassle factor: It can be time-consuming and inconvenient for your heirs.
  • It can be costly: Probate fees of various types can needlessly drain an estate of assets that would otherwise pass to your heirs.
  • Lack of privacy: California probate is a public process. Many families find the lack of privacy objectionable. And the fact that probate is a matter of public record makes it easier for any disgruntled beneficiaries to mount a will challenge, throw up obstacles to the smooth administration of your estate, and delay the passing of your assets to your intended beneficiaries.

When you meet with our California estate planning lawyers, we will discuss your goals and circumstances, and assess your various options for probate avoidance. Probate avoidance strategies must always be analyzed within the broader context of your financial and family situation and overall estate planning goals.

Probate avoidance strategies may include:

Establish a Revocable Living trust or an Irrevocable Trust.

Own assets jointly with rights of survivorship. Any asset owned in this way will pass to the co-tenant without the need for probate. Many married couples own assets in this way. It should be kept in mind, though, that this arrangement provides protection from California probate only when the first pass dies; the asset will have to be probated when the surviving spouse passes away if other plans have not been made. Note: owning assets jointly with an adult child is generally to be avoided since it makes the asset vulnerable to the child’s creditors. Owning assets with multiple children also create additional complications.

Own assets as tenants by the entirety. This type of ownership is available only to married couples. As with joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, the asset will pass to the co-owner upon the death of the first spouse, with no need for probate.

Name death beneficiaries for your assets. An asset that has a named beneficiary will automatically pass to that beneficiary when the owner passes away, without the need for probate. The titling of assets must be considered within the broader context and goals of an estate plan.


An IRA or other retirement plan requires special treatment when it comes to naming death beneficiaries. Generally speaking, the death beneficiary of an IRA or another retirement plan should NOT be the estate of the owner of the plan. If a Trust is a beneficiary, it must be properly drafted with regard to IRS regulations.