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WHAT IS PROBATE, AND WHEN IS IT NECESSARY?

Probate is a court proceeding where a Will’s authenticity will be validated. A judge will review the purported Will and ensure that it is indeed created by the testator (the person who died) and that the Will was prepared following the requisites provided by law.

In California, a Will must be signed by the testator, and there must be at least two witnesses for it to be valid. The signing must also be done in each other’s presence. The Will does not have to be notarized.

Probate is necessary if the decedent executed a Will. Probate may be required if the decedent passed without a Will.

If your Will applies to a given asset, then distribution of that asset to your intended heirs will be delayed by the probate process. Depending on what happens during the probate process, a given asset may not ultimately be distributed as you intended.

A RLT, however, does not have to be probated. Assets placed into a RLT therefore bypass probate, allowing them to be transferred to the intended beneficiary much more quickly and without interference—according to the terms of the Trust.

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