When a loved one passes away with just a Will, or no Estate Plan, the assets and liabilities of that individual goes through a court-supervised process called “Probate.” If a Will is present, Probate Courts transfers the deceased person’s assets to the beneficiaries listed in his or her will. If there is not a Will in place, the assets will pass by Intestate Succession. The first step in many Probate proceedings is locating the Will and once found, filing it with the Probate Court. This is usually done by the executor appointed in your Will. In the absence of a Will, a family member usually petitions the Court to be administrator of the decedent’s estate.
The lack or proper planning or no planning at all subjects your estate to the Probate Court with many disadvantages.
First, probates are public, meaning that the value of your assets will become public record, along with all actions taken pertaining to the estate.
Second, probate proceedings are time consuming. The process can take anywhere between 12-24 months. During this time, real and personal property is tied up and not available for the intended beneficiaries. A probate proceeding generally takes longer than the administration of a living trust.
Finally, what many consider the main reason to avoid probate, is its costly process. In California, the lawyer fees and executor commissions are based on a statutory fee schedule.
Below are the current rates as set out in California state statutes (Cal. Probate Code §10810 and §10811):
- 4% of the first $100,000 of the gross value of the probate estate
- 3% of the next $100,000
- 2% of the next $800,000
- 1% of the next $9 million
- .5% of the next $15 million
Contact us today so we can assist you in avoiding the confusing, frustrating, and archaic process of Probate Courts. One of the many ways to avoid probate is to execute a Living Trust. If, however, you find yourself in probate, let us guide you every step of the way to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are fulfilled in Probate Court.