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What property goes through probate?

It's not easy to think of your own mortality and what will happen to your loved ones after you're gone. That's why you've taken an interest in things like wills and trusts while you're still here to ensure your loved ones don't have to worry after you've passed.

California has specific probate laws for the distribution of your property and the settling of your debts after your passing. Wills and trusts are great ways to instruct the court and executor of your will to handle your affairs after you've passed.

Property that doesn't require probate

Yet, the law doesn't require everything to go through probate. For instance, property included in a trust circumvents the probate process and transfers directly to your desired heir. This is among the greatest benefits of creating a trust.

When you create your will it's also important to consider various financial accounts. Retirement accounts like a 401K and IRAs transfer to your chosen beneficiaries if you've named them in advance. The same is true for certain bank accounts that allow a specific person to legally claim the money in your account.

The importance of not missing steps

Someone like your surviving spouse or adult child may count on you to follow through on naming beneficiaries on these accounts. By taking the time to name the beneficiaries on applicable bank and retirement accounts, you can ensure they receive their inheritance more quickly than the months it can take for the probate process to run its course.

Your passing will be hard on your surviving friends and family, but they will likely appreciate any measures you can take now to reduce added stress once you are gone.

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