What exactly is estate planning?
Estate planning is the process of deciding who will get your property and how you would like it transferred after your death. It can also involve designating a guardian for young children or a representative to make financial and medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
Why would I want to avoid probate?
Probate is an official court proceeding in which the estate of the decedent is divided according to a will, if one exists, or state succession laws (California Probate Code §§ 6400 et seq.), if no will exists. It is also a lengthy process (approximately 9-14 months) and involves a lot of paperwork, time, and money. In addition, the documents filed in a probate proceeding are a matter of public record (California Rule of Court 2.400), and some may wish to avoid public scrutiny of their financial situation.