Many California residents want to be as prepared as possible when it comes to their own deaths. Surprisingly, however, some fail to consider the importance of careful estate planning when it comes to protecting their interests and providing for their loved ones. When a person dies with no set plan in place, his or her estate becomes intestate, meaning the probate court will make all decisions regarding its administration.
Those who possess even the most basic understanding of the probate process typically hope to help their families avoid complications as much as possible. This is because the intestate probate process is often wrought with problems that cause stress (and often discord) among family members. Those who execute solid estate plans ahead of time may prevent such problems and keep costs low.
If a valid will exists, the probate court is simply charged with distributing assets according to the estate owner's final instructions. Of course, someone may still contest the will, which would obviously extend the probate process. It's also possible to structure certain assets to avoid probate altogether.
For instance, a California estate owner may give property away to a loved one or friend before he or she dies. Property held in trust is also not subject to probate. When all is said and done, thorough estate planning is often the most viable means to an end regarding avoiding common probate problems and expediting the process, as well as maintaining control over who one's heirs will be and how assets are to be distributed.
Source: FindLaw, "Avoiding the Probate Process", Accessed on May 23, 2017