What Types of Property Pass Outside of Probate?
Many types of property routinely pass outside of the probate process. Property can pass outside of probate through beneficiary designations, joint tenancy or a living trust and not be subject to probate. California also allows up to $100,000 of personal property to pass without probate and there are provisions without limit for vehicles, vessels and mobile homes. There is also a summary petition procedure for transferring any type of property to a surviving spouse without any value limit. If you will your home to someone else, a probate would probable be required unless you place your home in joint tenancy or in community property with a right of survivorship with your spouse. However, there is also a summary petition procedure whereby up to $100,000 of real property can be transferred to anyone. However, a summary petition procedure still requires your estate to go to court and to pay legal fees to do so but it is relatively quick compared to a full probate administration. Unless the estate property falls within these provisions, only some of which are mentioned here, the estate must usually be probated, whether there is a will or not, and you should consider the use of a living trust which avoids the delays and expense of probate.
If you own property in other states, your estate could require multiple probates in each one of those states. If your family needs money to live on, they must request a living allowance from the court which could be insufficient or denied.