My grandfather passed away with a Family Trust and a Will (containing a pour over provision - into the Family Trust). I have been named Successor Trustee and Executor in said documents. The Life insurance company and another securities fund is requiring me to probate the estate before they will release the funds. My understanding is that with the Family Trust and the pour over provision in the Will there is no need to probate. If I do need to probate, is there an expedited process under these circumstances?
State/Country relating to question: California
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Whether a probate is necessary depends on why the insurance and investment companies are asking you to complete a probate. Generally with those types of assets, the trust is either the owner, beneficiary, or both. This means that typically on the person's death (in this case your grandfather), the insurance proceeds and investment assets would automatically become part of the trust (if not already owned by the trust).
The only reason they could be asking for a probate is because ownership was never changed to the trust and the trust was never named as beneficiary. In that case, those assets are part of your grandfather's probate estate. The will directs that the assets be poured over to the trust, but the will does still have to be probated in order for the terms of the will to take effect and get the assets transferred.
The only way to avoid a full blown probate in that situation, is if the value of the investment account and life insurance proceeds do not exceed $100,000. Then you can use a small estate affidavit:
Here is a sample form:
Otherwise, you will need to retain an attorney to conduct a full probate to transfer the probate assets to the trust.
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You are correct. The named Life Insurance beneficiary is my grandmother (who pre-deceased my grandfather). The Fund is in my Grandfathers name and not in the name of the Trust (as were all of his other personal assets.For clarification then - How is the $100,000 limit applied? Both the life insurance company and the fund asked me if the "Estate" value was less than $100,000. The only item(s) in his name peronally would be the fund - approx. value $30K and a life insurance policy valued approx. $70K.The remaining assets are in the checking account of the Trust - value approx. $1M. There are no real property assets.
You don't count the assets in the trust. You only count assets that comprise his probate estate and if that amount doesn't exceed $100,000, then you can claim the assets on behalf of the trust via the small estate affidavit.
Thus, you should be allowed to use the small estate affidavit.
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Wills, Trusts, Probate & other Estate Matters
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