What is probate, and why do I want to avoid it?

In California, probate is a statutory court-supervised process through which an estate is administered and the assets distributed to the beneficiaries. It is required for all estates that have more than $150,000 in property. Probating an estate takes time and involves expenses and fees. It is also a public process, so all the details of your estate are available to anyone. If you have a good estate plan, such as one that includes a living trust, most or all of your estate can avoid the probate process. Without probate, distribution of the assets goes more quickly. In addition, the expenses and fees of probate are saved, so there probably will be more assets to distribute to the beneficiaries.