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Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reasons and Legal Mechanisms to Avoid Probate

How can I avoid probate in California?

Avoiding probate in California is not only the goal of many regular folks, but of celebrities as well.

Most people have heard of a last will and testament – – the most common estate planning tool that has several purposes including but not limited to the disposition after death of one’s real and personal property and the appointment of guardians for any minor children.

But for some, there are other legal methods for transferring assets which can bypass the time and expense of probate. In addition to being a faster and more cost-efficient way for one’s intended beneficiaries to receive the assets, it also allows the decedent to keep their affairs private by bypassing the probate proceeding—which is a matter of public record.

Some of the methods for accomplishing this include:

  • a living trust for real estate, bank accounts and vehicles
  • joint ownership for real estate
  • real property transfer on death deeds (an option available until January 1, 2021 unless extended)
  • payable on death bank accounts
  • transfer on death securities (like stocks and bonds) as well as registrations for vehicles.

Skilled estate planning attorneys will craft the best plan to meet your particular needs from the financial to the medical to the emotional – – including the need for privacy.

In California, there's no shortage of news on celebrity deaths and the morbid curiosity that surrounds them – – from the circumstances of their death to their net worth and how their fortunes get distributed.

Often, when the only news you ever hear in the months after a celebrity’s death relates to the cause of death, that celebrity’s estate plan likely utilized trusts and some of the above legal mechanisms to preserve privacy and avoid probate. Perhaps that's the reason why recent reports surrounding the death of famous rocker, Tom Petty, are focused on the cause of his death rather than his net worth and how it was divided. But time will tell.

Of course, in the case of the very private late pop star, Prince-- who reportedly died without a will and now has and would-be heirs coming out of the proverbial woodwork looking for a piece of his massive fortune--those who enjoy celebrity gossip will likely have years ahead to watch how his very public estate will be fought over and administered.

If you are in need of an initial estate plan, or would like to modify an existing one, Biddle Law can help you.  Contact the office for a free 15-minute consultation.

With offices in San Mateo and Belmont, California, we service clients throughout San Mateo County, including San Carlos, Burlingame and Foster City.


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Biddle Law is located in San Mateo and Belmont and services San Mateo County including San Carlos, Burlingame and Foster City.



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| Phone: 650.532.3470
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| Phone: 650.532.3470

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