What is Probate?

Many people mistakenly believe Probate is a tax. It is not. Probate is a court supervised proceeding where a Judge oversees the administration of a person’s estate. Probate involves the payment of debts and resolution of creditor’s claims, inventory and appraisal of assets, and distribution of the estate in accordance with the deceased person’s will, or if there is no will, to your heirs in accordance with California’s intestacy laws.

The time and cost of Probate:

Probate is often a long and complicated process, taking a year if not longer to complete. Not only is Probate a time consuming process, it is costly with court fees, publication of legal notice, bond, appraisal fees, and attorney’s fees based on a percentage of the value of the estate (based on a sliding scale of 4% to 1%).

Benefits of Probate:

Probate is not necessarily “bad.” For some who anticipate quarreling heirs, having the administration of your estate court supervised may be beneficial. Also, if a person has significant creditors, it might be beneficial to have such creditor claims formally resolved in court. For most people, however, Probate avoidance can save significant time and costs and simplify the administration of your estate. Each individual case is different so we advise you consult with an attorney to discuss which option is best for you.

How to avoid Probate:

You can avoid Probate of your estate with a living trust and proper estate planning. Not only will you save time and money, having an estate plan in place will provide you with peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out efficiently, cost-effectively and privately. Even with a living trust, however, it is possible that part or all your estate will have to be administered through Probate. Therefore, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney who can advise you regarding the proper steps to avoid Probate.

If you are faced with administering an estate through Probate, we are here to help you. With us as your attorney, we can help you navigate the complex process. We will guide you through the entire process, providing you with information and support to make the process understandable every step of the way.