Will vs. Trust?

How to Avoid Probate – Intestacy vs. Will vs. Trust

  • Intestacy – If you do nothing then the California Probate Code sets forth who will inherit your assets and the Probate Court will supervise the entire process. See: Consanguinity Table
  • Will – You pass away owning assets then the Probate Court will supervise the transfer to your heirs. If you have a Will the court will honor your wishes but will supervise the entire process. 
  • Trust – Legally transfers ownership of your assets to your trust, which, doesn’t die (it is called a living document). When you pass away your trust may become irrevocable but it continues on and therefore your assets are out of your name and the Probate Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over them. Your Trust acts like a contract to pass your assets to who you want in the manner you want. Voilà – probate avoided!  *Just be sure your assets are properly funded into your trust. 

How Assets Pass to the Next Generation


  • If nothing is written down, California probate code determines who inherit your assets.


  • Your Will provides instructions to the probate court regarding who inherits your assets, but still requires the court’s involvement in carrying out your plan.
  • Wills become public record and can be searched by.


  • Directs your distribution plan.
  • Contains multiple contingencies.
  • Keeps your affairs private.
  • Your heirs avoid court.
  • No set fee to pay for carrying out your trust administration.
  • Provides for minor children.
  • Applies even during your incapacity.

Sample Costs for Probate


$10,000+ ON A $300,000 ESTATE


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