Here in California, residents must contend with a relatively low probate threshold. This can make it particularly difficult to circumvent the process and avoid hefty taxation of estates. This threshold is so low, in fact, that most individuals who own homes in the state automatically exceed it, by virtue of the state's high property values.
If a person hopes to avoid the probate process while owning real property in California, he or she may consider listing the property as an asset within a trust, which is a fairly standard practice in estate planning and probate management. However, in California, merely listing the property within the trust is not enough to circumvent probate entirely. In addition, the owner must also transfer the property to the trust through a deed.
Creating an effective estate plan requires a nuanced understanding of many laws and regulations at both state and federal levels, as these laws frequently change in significant ways with little notice. Be sure that you understand these issues sufficiently as you build your estate plan to protect your interests and ensure that your beneficiaries do not bear the consequences of poor planning.
Deeds enable official property transfers
Without a properly executed and filed deed, listing a piece of property within a trust is not only ineffective, it may compromise the efficacy of the estate plan as a whole.
Depending on the complexity of your estate plan, you may have fairly detailed wishes regarding how your estate is divided among your beneficiaries. However, if your estate plan directs a trustee to disperse your estate in a way that violates probate law, it can significantly increase the amount of time required to resolve the matter, and may leave your estate open to legal challenges.
The longer it takes to resolve estate issues, the greater the drain on the assets within the estate. The estate may be seriously depleted by the time your trustee resolves the matter. That could further delay the asset dispersal to your beneficiaries. Disgruntled beneficiaries could get into disputes as they fight over dwindling assets. Be sure that you properly understand all the laws that affect your estate, including the necessity of a deed to transfer real property.
Protecting your legacy begins now
However you choose to address your intentions for your estate, don't put it off. The longer you wait, the greater the likelihood that you may never address it. An experienced estate planing attorney can provide you with up-to-date information on any issues, as well as the applicable laws. This will allow you to protect your rights and implement yoour priorities.