What Happens To My Property When I Pass Away?

Hi. This is Marc Herbert from Herbert Law Office with the Question of the Week. This week I got asked twice what happens to my property when I pass away. And that’s a great question. And it’s kind of a complicated question, too, because in California, it really depends on what type of assets you have. What’s the title on those assets, and then what’s the location of those assets?

So and it’s easy to get confused because California makes these laws that should be very simple and very straightforward. But then there’s all these exceptions, and then there’s exceptions to the exceptions, and it gets complicated very easily. So basically, when somebody passes away in California, there’s two kinds of assets, assets that can end up in probate court if you’re not careful.

And then assets that should never go to probate court because you already have beneficiaries listed on those. So things like life insurance for one case, IRAs, things like that should have beneficiaries named. And if you keep them current, then when the time comes, the company just writes a check to those beneficiaries and that’s it. Everything that’s handled pretty quick and easy when it comes to other assets, though, especially land in California, valued at $55,000 or more, that’s a probable asset.

If that’s not protected in the right way, then your family’s going to have to undergo all the costs and all the expenses and all the stress of probate court. And then when they get out, if it’s a non spouse heir, such as our children, there could be taxes on top of that as well. The second thing is title in California, title really controls on probate of all assets.

So for non-profitable assets, the life insurance, the for one case and IRAs, you’re the owner, you are the one and only person who generates those funds or contributes those funds into those accounts. Again, when it comes back to land and even banks title really controls. So if you are a single person, you really need to think about putting together a trust or a will.

If you have land in California as a single person, but even if you have community property with your spouse, a lot of people think that one of the beauties of community property is that you don’t have to go to court. And once upon a time that was true. But the rules have changed. And these days there is a summary proceeding.

There is a shorter, less expensive way of going to court and handling community property. But you still have to go to court. Sometimes people are entitled jointly, like a joint bank account or maybe a joint tenancy on land. Again, if the situations fall just the wrong way, those assets can end up in court where again, without a plan, you’re sort of stuck with California’s plan.

California’s laws, which may lead to some results that you’re really not going to like. Finally, what happens to your assets depends on their location. So if everything is inside California, that’s fine. And you can handle it pretty simply in that way. If you do end up in court, it’s one probate here in the county of residence. But if you have land in other states or you have mineral rights in Louisiana, for example, every state has a little bit different laws.

And it sometimes happens where when somebody passes and they don’t have a trust that their family has to go to all the different states and do a multiple probate in multiple counties under the state laws that, you know, might really complicate things as well. So at Herber Law office, we offer a free consultation for you to come in and we can talk about the type of assets you have the title on those assets, the location on those assets, and then we can show you the options that work best for you and your unique situation.

If you’re interested in scheduling a free consultation, just give us a call at 6612739007. We’ll talk to you as soon.