A lot of people ask me if a will can help you avoid probate. And unfortunately fortunately, in California, the answer to the question is no. It will not help you avoid probate. In fact, a will guarantees probate.
There are only three ways that you can avoid probate in California.
The first is to have what’s called a small estate. Under current law, to have a small estate, you can’t have more than $150,000 in your name total, and you can’t own real estate worth more than $5,000.
The second way to avoid probate is to do what’s called a spousal set aside. This is a procedure where the surviving spouse can use essentially a shortcut to claim the deceased spouse’s property. Now, the problem with the spouse set aside is it only works for the death of the first spouse. If the surviving spouse hasn’t done estate planning himself or herself, that spouse’s estate would then have to go through probate.
The third way to avoid probate is to have a revocable living trust. Now, we’re going to talk about a revocable living trust in another video. But to answer the question, will it help you avoid probate? The answer is no.