Probate is the legal process that takes place after your death to pass title to your assets and to resolve any outstanding debts. The process is required for any estate with assets of $100,000 or more held solely in your name (not in a trust) with no valid beneficiary designation, regardless of whether a will exists. All assets in probate are subject to state-mandated attorney and personal representative fees, as well as court costs.
The person to be appointed as personal representative begins the probate process by meeting with a probate attorney. After getting the necessary information, the attorney files the appropriate documents with the probate court to have the personal representative appointed. A valid will dictates the disposition of the assets. In the absence of a valid will, California law determines a decedent’s heirs. Due to notice requirements for heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors, probate takes an absolute minimum of six months to complete. Without a skilled attorney, a probate can take years to settle.
Probate and probate administration is also a very expensive process. It can cost an estate up to eight percent of its worth to cover the attorney and personal representative fees. This does not include court costs. Depending on the size of your estate, this could mean tens of thousands of dollars or more that could otherwise have been passed to your heirs.
In addition, probate cases become public information, entitling anyone access to private matters and potentially causing embarrassment or aggravation to your family.
Planning ahead to avoid probate may be the single most important act you can do to protect your heirs from this expensive, lengthy, and annoying process. Attorneys at Generations provide expert legal guidance in both avoiding probate, and handling the probate process efficiently if it becomes necessary.