California Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone passes away. Its purpose is to administer their estate by paying outstanding taxes, paying off debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.
In California, unfortunately, the probate process can be complex and time-consuming. Here are five things to know about the California probate process.
- Length of the Probate Process: The duration of the probate process in California can vary depending on the complexity of the estate and any challenges or disputes that arise. On average, it takes around nine to eighteen months to complete probate, although more complex cases may take longer. During this time, the court verifies the will, appoints an executor or administrator, and oversees the distribution of assets.
- Costs Involved in Probate: California’s probate process incurs various costs, which are typically paid from the estate’s assets. These costs may include court filing fees, attorney fees, executor fees, and appraisal fees. The fees are typically calculated based on the value of the estate. While there is no fixed percentage, it is common for the fees to be a percentage of the estate’s value or a combination of flat and percentage fees. It is important to consult with an attorney like Carlsbad Probate Attorney, Andrew Fesler, to understand the specific costs associated with your situation.
- Probate vs. Non-Probate Assets: Not all assets go through probate in California. Some assets can be transferred directly to beneficiaries outside the probate process. These non-probate assets include joint tenancy property, assets held in a Revocable Trust (also known as a Living Trust), life insurance policies with designated beneficiaries, and assets with a valid transfer-on-death (TOD) or payable-on-death (POD) designation. Understanding the distinction between probate and non-probate assets can significantly simplify the administration process.
- Probate Alternatives: California offers alternatives to the traditional probate process, which can help streamline estate administration and reduce costs. One such option is the Small Estate Affidavit, which can be used for estates valued at $166,250 or less, excluding certain assets. Additionally, Revocable/living trusts are commonly used to avoid probate altogether by transferring assets to the trust during the grantor’s lifetime. It is what Attorney Fesler recommends to his clients as it is a great way to distribute assets instead of using a will and having to go through probate.
- Professional Guidance and Legal Assistance: Navigating the California probate process can be complex, and it is crucial to seek professional guidance and legal assistance. Hiring an experienced probate attorney can help ensure that the process runs smoothly, deadlines are met, and legal requirements are fulfilled. As a probate attorney, Andrew Fesler can assist with identifying and gathering assets, document preparation, representation in court, and provide guidance on tax implications and asset distribution.
Consult Carlsbad Probate Attorney Andrew Fesler
Understanding the complexities of the California probate process is essential when dealing with the administration of an estate. From the length of time it may take, to the costs involved, being well-informed can help you navigate the process. If you have been tasked with being the executor or administrator of a will, remember to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in probate.
Attorney Andrew Fesler has a customer-centered approach to his practice. As a sole practitioner, believes that each client deserves quality and thoughtful service that is individualized to meet their needs. He can even travel to you if that is important!
Contact the Law Office of Andrew Fesler today to find out more about revocable trusts, probate, or how we can help you with all aspects of comprehensive estate planning in California. Call (760) 444-0943 or through our online form.