Passing property through a “Living Trust” is preferred by most people in California estate planning, and it keeps the information private and avoids probate court.
Passing assets by “Living Trust” outside of probate keeps them private, avoids will contests, like where blood relatives are hostile toward a domestic partner or new spouse. It also simplifies planning for elderly people with just one child they wish to benefit.
A “living trust” is the most widely publicized tool for bypassing probate and can hold assets for your benefit while you are alive and specify who gets what after you die.
However, a “living trust” avoids probate only for assets put into the trust. So you must fund the trust by having assets transferred to it.
Some lawyers recommend a “pourover will” that can cover everything else not placed in the trust. This separate “pourover will” must be probated.
Some assets will not go through probate no matter what a will or living trust says, like retirement assets, life insurance and savings bonds, and jointly titled bank accounts, brokerage accounts and real estate.