When leaving one’s assets to loved ones, the last thing they want to worry about is a delay in beneficiaries being able to access them. However, if an estate gets tangled up in probate, that is what is likely to happen. It may be months, or even years, before someone is able to get move into the family home or get the family funds. This can take even longer if the estate is complicated or contested.

There are methods to avoid probate, such as creating a living will or a trust that have been described on the blog previously. California also allows individuals to create a transfer on death deed, a new alternative to keep their houses out of probate. Various types of real property can be transferred through this method, including a single family home or condominium, a single-family residence or a residence with no more than four residential dwelling units. The beneficiary has to be named in the deed.

The deed is revocable, which means it can be changed any time during the owner’s lifetime. During the person’s lifetime, he or she remains the owner and there are no taxes to worry about, unlike what one has to pay when making a joint-tenant. Additionally, when making someone a joint-tenant, they become the legal owner immediately, unlike in a transfer on death deed.

Married couples may prefer making their spouse a joint-tenant to avoid probate, single individuals may prefer to use this route-but there is no hard and fast rule. There are many estate planning tools that a person wishing to distribute assets to loved ones has at their disposal and an experienced attorney can discuss options with them.