In other words, must there be a full-on probate in California because the real property asset (assuming a value in excess of $20,000.00, no joint tenancy or transfer on death provision in the deed) was in the decedent’s name alone when he/she died?
Likely the answer is no. Assuming that there is a trust and for purposes of example, a surviving spouse, there will have to be a petition filed in the probate court (per Probate Code §850) to get the real property asset transferred to the trust, but that is not the same as a full-on probate.
Consider this set of facts: Husband, in California, acquires a parcel of land while he is married and fails to have his wife’s name put on it. In fact, let’s say that he takes title as a married man, as his sole and separate property. He dies. There is a family trust and if someone had thought about it, the decedent would have been counseled to place the property into the name of the trust, thus avoiding any probate proceeding. Alas, that was not done. Please note, I am ignoring any Family Law issues in this discussion.