Tip Sheet on California Probate and Alternatives to Probate by Deed and Record

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Probate is the post death transfer of real property under the supervision of the Superior Court of California. This Tip Sheet by Deed and Record explains what is probate and available alternatives to probate.

California real property transfers from a decedent to heirs is either in probate court or by alternatives permitted under California law. The alternatives are; trusts, “revocable transfer on death deeds’ and an “Affidavit Re Real Property of Small Value.” This Tip Sheet is provided by Deed and Record.

Probate is the post death transfer of real property under the supervision of the Superior Court of California. The problem with probate is it’s a legal action that requires numerous legal documents, notice, publication, appraisal and at least two court hearings. Probate is time consuming and costly, but it does protect heirs and is effective.

An alternative to probate permitted under California law is a trust. A trust is a contract between the creator of the trust and a trustee for the benefit of another person. Trusts to avoid probate are created when an individual is living, hence the term “living trust.” After the trust is created ownership of real property is transferred from the individual to the individual’s trust. Both the creation of the trust and the transfer of real property ownership to the trust are required to avoid probate court.

California’s legislature has passed a new law creating “revocable, transfer on death deeds” for real property. On death of the real property owner the deed transfers ownership without probate to the beneficiaries named on the deed. The law ends on January 1, 2021 and revocable transfer on death deed cannot be executed after this date unless the California legislature continues the law. Revocable transfer on death deeds executed before January 1, 2021 will remain valid after January 1, 2021.

California law also allows for shortcut, or expedited probate procedure for real property valued at less than $50,000 known as an “Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value.” No court hearing is needed. The affidavit is filed with the Clerk of the Court. The Court Clerk returns a signed certified copy of the Affidavit. The Affidavit is then filed with the County Recorder.

California real property transfers from a decedent to heirs is either in probate court or by an alternative permitted under California law. Alternatives to probate court are; trusts, “revocable transfer on death deeds’ and an “Affidavit Re Real Property of Small Value.”

This Tip Sheet is published by Mark W. Bidwell, an attorney licensed by the State of California. His office is located at 4952 Warner Avenue, Suite 235, Huntington Beach, CA 92649. Telephone number is 714-846-2888.

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Mark Bidwell
Timeshare Lovers
since: 05/2016
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