When a loved one passes away, an estate administrator or estate executor is appointed to manage the property and perform a number of duties to finalize the estate's property and finances. In some cases, the estate may have to go through the probate process. This procedure is designed to help ensure that the will is valid and that the property is properly distributed to the rightful heirs. The probate process, however, can be costly and time consuming, which can leave a burden on loved ones and friends who are left behind to deal with the deceased's estate. This leaves many people struggling to create their estate plans in such a way that they are able to avoid probate all together.
First, money and property that are part of a trust can often avoid going through probate. There are several types of trusts, including a basic living trust and revocable living trust, just to name a few. Property involving joint owners may be titled "with rights of survivorship," meaning that if either one of the owners passes away, the survivor immediately obtains complete ownership of the property.
According to the California Courts, financial accounts and property may be termed "transfer on death,", meaning that once the owner has passed, the money or property will be automatically transferred into the name of the beneficiary. Items termed "payable on death" can also be transferred without entering into probate in most cases. By choosing one of these methods, people may be able to avoid probate and have their property and finances go directly to the people to whom they are intended.