Like most in Los Angeles, you likely assume that the disposition of a loved one's assets following their death has to be done through the probate process. Many come to us here at The Law Office of Matthew C. Yu with the same assumption, only to learn that nonprobate transfers are indeed allowed (under certain circumstances). The key to understanding if such a transfer of assets is permissible in an estate case that you are party to is understanding what those unique circumstances are.
Section 5000 of the California Probate Code designates the instruments commonly authorizing nonprobate transfers to include:
- Insurance policies, employee benefit plans and employment contracts
- Individual retirement plans, compensation plans and pension plans
- Bonds, mortgages and promissory notes
- Account agreements and deposit agreements
- Conveyances and deeds of gift
- Marital property agreements and custodial agreements
Per the law, these instruments are not subject to the regulations governing the execution of a will. Thus, you cannot seek to invalidate their terms if they do not comply with the standard provisions of the probate process.
Probate typically oversees the administration of an estate as outlined in a will, yet even provisions of a will can authorize nonprobate transfers. Written provisions detailing the transfer of property, money or other benefits at the time of a decedent's death to designated persons named by the decedent are permissible. The same is true for written provisions that state that any money due to an estate is no longer payable due to the death of either the promisor or the promisee.
More information on special estate administration provisions can be found throughout our site.